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Sep 08

CLIFF RICHARD – “We Don’t Talk Anymore”

FT + Popular75 comments • 4,319 views

#441, 25th August 1979

The strictures of the Popular project give Cliff’s career a sort of cometary aspect: he shows up around the end of a decade just to check on how British pop is doing. But of course he rarely stopped having hits – look at the Everyhit stats and his late 70s comeback doesn’t seem like a revival so much as a realignment, helping an established hitmaker get his bearings back at a time of unusual turbulence in the pop market.

This feels like a comeback though, partly because it’s by some way the most artistically successful of his moves to stay up-to-date. The combination of reassuringly chuggy rock and synth gloss suits Cliff’s voice, gives him a freedom to use it and express himself which he makes the most of – the falsetto bursts and soulful shout-outs on “We Don’t Talk Anymore” sound like Cliff enjoying himself and his music, losing himself in it for once. There’s a slightly didactic tone about a lot of Cliff’s stuff – whether he’s trying to get us to have fun (“Congratulations”) or contemplate God, or indeed contemplate how remarkable Sir Clifford’s career is: national treasure he may be, but he doesn’t half like to let you know it. On “We Don’t Talk Anymore”, that sense of ulterior motive is absent and he sounds more relaxed than at almost any time since “Travellin’ Light”. For me, the trade-off for Cliff’s newfound gusto is that the performance lacks emotional bite: he sounds like he’s having too much fun to care whether or not he’s talking to whoever it might be. But so what? This is as solidly enjoyable a pop record as we’ll find.

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Comments

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  1. 61
    lonepilgrim on 25 Sep 2008 #

    1979 was also the year in which bob dylan released ‘slow train coming’ – his cheerful collection of songs of a gospel of hell and damnation.
    I seem to recall cliff seeming slightly underwhelmed to be replaced as the poster boy for christ

  2. 62
    DV on 26 Sep 2008 #

    This is as solidly enjoyable a pop record as we’ll find. 6

    Surely if you could not find a more solidly enjoyable pop record, then this would merit a 10?

  3. 63
    Tom on 27 Sep 2008 #

    A mercurially enjoyable, or intriguingly enjoyable, or excitingly enjoyable, or indeed a solidly adorable record might get more!

  4. 64
    DJ Punctum on 27 Sep 2008 #

    So you’re marking down Cliff for not being more like Queen… ;-)

  5. 65
    Erithian on 30 Sep 2008 #

    H #58 – certainly a precursor in the sense that it does the common SAW trick of using an instrumental version of the chorus as the intro to establish the tune as an earworm early doors. Not a million miles from “I Should Be So Lucky”!

  6. 66
    Billy Smart on 6 Oct 2008 #

    TOTP Watch: Cliff Richard performed ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’ on Top Of The Pops on three occasions;

    26th July 1979. Also in the studio that week were; Showaddywaddy, Julie Tzuke, The Buzzcocks, The Undertones, Telex (I’d like to see that) and Spyro Gyra, plus Legs & Co’s interpretation of ‘Born To Be Alive’. The host that week was Jimmy Saville OBE. This was the 800th edition of Top Of The Pops.

    23rd August 1979. Also in the studio that week were; The Jam, Racey, The Flying Lizards (I’d like to see that, too), Billy Lovelady, The Planets (who?) and Showaddywaddy, plus Legs & Co’s interpretation of ‘Just When I Needed You Most’. The host was Jimmy Saville OBE.

    25th December 1979. See ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric’ for details of this edition.

  7. 67
    rosie on 6 Oct 2008 #

    Billy @ 68: That would be Judie Tzuke I take it, not Julie.

    Spyro Gyra? Blimey! Sounds like a much better than average edition.

  8. 68
    DJ Punctum on 7 Oct 2008 #

    Sadly, Telex mainman Marc Moulin has just passed away.

  9. 69
    Conrad on 18 Sep 2009 #

    just read bob stanley’s piece in today’s guardian on Cliff – I see Mr Ewing that you are quoted and FT linked to.

    So, thought I’d mention here, I would really like to see a Cliff retrospective album, as well as the Rubin-Cash style collaboration that Mr Stanley suggests.

    A retrospective that picked up Cliff’s best material from 76-81 would be a fine start. It’s a pretty much unbroken run of great singles (with a few choice album tracks included too).

    He certainly does himself no favours with his public persona these days, but it really is about time these releases received the critical acclaim they warrant.

    No doubt there would be a case for a carefully selected compilation of earlier material too.

  10. 70
    punctum on 18 Sep 2009 #

    A decent 4 or 5CD retrospective box set is certainly justified, focusing particularly on the abovementioned ’76-81 purple patch – not just the hits but with the pick of the album tracks as well – and on the still misunderstood ’69-’73 Godhood/Godhead period. Actually I’d settle for a decent compilation of the latter, bookmarked by “Throw Down A Line” and “Take Me High.” Didn’t realise Hank wrote the former with Hendrix in mind, I must say.

  11. 71
    lonepilgrim on 30 Sep 2009 #

    here’s a few Cliff performances from the early 70s which might appeal to some:

    http://bigozine2.com/roio/?p=308

  12. 72
    Sheila McDermott on 7 Apr 2011 #

    Speaking of “We Don’t Talk Anymore”, done by Cliff Richard as a soft rock hit from 1979, written by Alan Tarney, I believe it’s his first U.S. one-hit wonder even though he’s a hitmaker in England. On that song he sounds a lot more like Kenny Loggins, Dave Loggins, David Pack from Ambrosia, Glenn Frey and Don Henley as American soft rock acts of the ’70s, plus the song “We Don’t Talk Anymore” sounds a lot more different than “The Best Of My Love”, done by The Eagles, made from 1974.

  13. 73
    Ricardo on 18 Jun 2011 #

    Cliff Richard, “We Don’t Talk Anymore”

    Speaks for itself, right?

  14. 74
    Susan studio owner on 17 Jan 2013 #

    Futuristic, but also the pre-cursor to the norm in mid to late 80’s conveyor belt slick pop.
    1979 was a transition yr in music, what was the 80’s to be? Digitally produced is what most of the next decade-s music turned out to be.

    Alan tarney had installed the digital sds recording console into his recording process for 79, it had on bnard digital efx, 32 trks and sequencing/automated sync timing punch in out etc etc etc, it changed imeasurably the sound and gave timing perfection to the individual recorded music traks, it warnt really the synths that changed music alone, it was what they were recorded into and the processing tools available, thats why numan, for al his pathos and uber futurism in 79, just wasnt so ‘modern’ he hadnt embraced the new digital sds console!
    Cliff was very rich very famous and very able to afford a brand new recording medium and thats probably (even though early digital recording) why it still sounds perfect and fresh and contemporary, yet fulfilled future sound, ole cliff and tarney knew something, great song too, a 10!

  15. 75
    hectorthebat on 8 Aug 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010) 1002
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)
    Sounds (UK) – Singles of the Year 8

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