I don’t know why the producer of Cliff by Cliff Richard and the Drifters chose to record the album in front of an audience of several hundred screaming girls. Their piercing shrieks permeate the record (it certainly doesn’t take much to set them off), and I fail to understand what they add to it. Although I would probably have screamed too, for the surprisingly sexy young Cliff Richard!
Manic teenage girls aside, this is a very good album. Plenty of the tracks are covers of existing hits, and the influence of other Rock ‘n’ Roll artists like Cliff’s hero (and namesake) Little Richard and Elvis Presley is clear, but there are some real gems amongst the original numbers. Move It has been mentioned a lot this week, as the first Rock ‘n’ Roll song to come from the UK, and it definitely lives up to it’s reputation. This track is full of the exuberance characteristic of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but where songs from other artists can sometimes sound strained, Cliff Richard and the Drifters maintain a laid-back vibe that tells the screaming girls, “we’re too cool to try hard”.
I particularly enjoyed the slinkier instrumental style of the Drifters’ Cliff-free tracks, Jet Black and Driftin’, which provide a great contrast upbeat style of the rest of the album. The band’s anthem of hope for girls struggling to keep up with the trends, (You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care, is fabulous, and I imagine tracks like this made Cliff and the Drifters seem more accessible to their burgeoning fan base. Here and there are hints of Cliff’s middle-of-the-road Pop career to come, such as Donna‘s more subdued sound, but there wasn’t enough of this to dampen the album as a whole.
This record feels like a slice of the 1950s youth culture, complete with charmingly archaic sentiments: I’m not sure how I’d react if someone told me they wanted to be ‘tied to my apron strings’! You can tell just from listening to Cliff that he was a real cool cat in his day, which is perhaps what the screaming girls are supposed to emphasise, and the effect is only stronger when you watch him perform. Rock on Cliff Richard!