24
Sep 08

CLIFF RICHARD – “We Don’t Talk Anymore”

FT + Popular75 comments • 4,146 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.

6

Comments

1 2 All
  1. 26
    jeff w on 24 Sep 2008 #

    Loving the pace of Popular right now.

    Not me! The string of #1s we’re on now need to be savoured. Slow down, Tom!

    Agree with the majority here that this is a classic. Tom is also right that this feels like a new beginning, his previous 70s hits notwithstanding. Although this may be down to (a) this being the first (I think) Cliff record since EMI put out the ’40 Golden Greats’ compilation*, certainly his first hit; and (b) the accompanying LP being called Rock ‘n’ Roll Juvenile; the idea of Cliff as ageless pop icon started here, I guess.

    *I wish there were more of his 70s singles on this comp. I really like some of the early 70s stuff that MC is slagging off upthread, esp. “Living with Kazoos”, I mean “Living in Harmony”. Also: I love the sleeve art – a gold disc in the shape of Cliff’s profile on a plain white background.

  2. 27
    Tom on 24 Sep 2008 #

    Re #26 – I’m aiming for 4 a week, which will mostly go up on weekdays. So this week we can expect one more, tomorrow or Friday. (I’ll admit this is a frustrating stretch for me, though – lots of great records, but annoyingly on the edge of my personal memory. But I’m trying not to let that rush me.)

  3. 28
    wichita lineman on 24 Sep 2008 #

    Re 28: His first major hit since 40 Golden Greats, which concluded with My Kinda Life (later covered by Denim). Yes, it was too light on the lesser 70s hits, too heavy on the 58-65 period even though I’m pretty sure it missed out I Love You, which must have been an oversight (on chart position grounds, anyway).

    I feel obliged to mention Take Me High, the ’73 Cliff film about setting up a burger joint in Birmingham and, yes, it’s as good as that sounds. The ‘restaurant’ is called Brumburger; the film’s as definitively 3 Day Week as Mouldy Old Dough.

    In between 40GG and WDTA came Green Light, the chorus of which ran “Searching for a green light/Using all my keen sight.”

    CLUNK.

    No wonder he liked Up The Junction so much.

  4. 29
    vinylscot on 24 Sep 2008 #

    Tarney and Spencer – anyone remember their near-hit as performers, “I’m Your Man Rock and Roll”? I can only remember the title and that I quite liked it.

    ..which is more than I can say for this one. To me it sounds like a Leo Sayer cast-off, with Cliffbert doing a fairly passable impression of Mr Sayer. I agree it’s less laughable than quite a lot of his 1970s output, but it’s not as good as a couple of them – “Miss You Nights” is obviously on a completely different level to this bland, automatic pilot performance.

    Great as he had been in his day, I often view it as a bit of an indictment on the British public that they have kept the Cliff myth alive for so long. As someone suggested earlier, I wouldn’t put it past him to have more number ones in the future.. but that’s not to say he would deserve them.

    And yes the “She-ee-ee-eee-ep” bit on the backing vocal is the highlight.

  5. 30
    lonepilgrim on 25 Sep 2008 #

    If you were going to put 1979s number 1s on the psychologists couch the picture wouldn’t be a pretty one. With the possible exception of Ian Dury and Anita Ward there’s a mood of anxiety, paranoia and communication breakdown. The latter is exemplified by this song which Cliff perfoms with such passion that it suggests he made some deeper connection with the sentiment than usual. I always feel that Cliff wants to be admired – whether as a singer or a saint – rather than loved.
    It’s tempting to think what songs Cliff could cover now if he was to take the Rick Rubin route to career revival.
    I’d like to hear him do an ‘In every dream home a heartache/Living doll’ medley.

  6. 31
    DJ Punctum on 25 Sep 2008 #

    #15: That whole album (Always Guaranteed) really is a lost classic. Produced (again) by Tarney and I think using only synthesisers and electronics, it isn’t quite Saint Etienne with Cliff but it comes very close. Or possibly Cliff Sings Early OMD.

    I’m stirred by the defence of his early seventies Godhead work; does anyone know if there’s a decent compilation of this stuff on CD? I quite liked “Silvery Rain” with its vaguely apocalyptic “fly away Peter, fly away Paul” refrain.

  7. 32
    mike on 25 Sep 2008 #

    It turns out that someone has recently YouTubed “The Singles Collection 1971-1978” in its entirety, including the rather fine “Silvery Rain” (gosh, it’s a bit “Les Fleur”-ish, innit?), the rather effective and interestingly arranged “Jesus”, “Sing A Song Of Freedom” (banned in South Africa!) and the first single my sister ever bought, “Living In Harmony”. Notably strong vocal performances throughout. He means it, maaan.

  8. 33
    DJ Punctum on 25 Sep 2008 #

    That’s out of the Singles Collection box set, right? I keep seeing that in HMV but it’s forty quid and never turns up second hand. At half that price I’d take a punt.

  9. 34
    Mark G on 25 Sep 2008 #

    Yeah, I’d put a “notification” on ebay. I *did* manage to find the “Shadows Singles” 4CD boxset on ebay for a reasonable price after a long time of looking for it. So, it can happen.

    I’d go check now what the cliff set goes for on “completed” but the site is websensed off here.

  10. 35
    Billy Smart on 25 Sep 2008 #

    I got a new copy of the Cliff box for about £18 on Amazon, which seemed about right.

  11. 36
    DJ Punctum on 25 Sep 2008 #

    Current price on Amazon: £21.

    Is It Any Wonder People Are Turning Away From Record Shops En Masse Part 3493789…

    OK THIS IS STRANGE! I CAN EDIT DJ PUNCTUM’S COMMENT! I AM MARK G.

    Sorry, Marc. Won’t do it again, promise.

  12. 37
    Mark G on 25 Sep 2008 #

    DJP. can you edit my comments?

  13. 38
    DJ Punctum on 25 Sep 2008 #

    No I can’t!

    How the feck did that happen?

    On the Numan thread I can also edit Mark G’s last post, if I so wish.

    MODERATOR

  14. 39
    Mark G on 25 Sep 2008 #

    theory:

    DJP, have you ever been to Northallerton in a professional capacity?

  15. 40
    DJ Punctum on 25 Sep 2008 #

    Not in a professional capacity, no. Why Northallerton?

  16. 41
    Mark G on 25 Sep 2008 #

    That’s where I am now.

    When I first went to the page, it brought up one from last week so I guess there is an issue with refresh (it’s one of those sites where you have to do this otherwise it uses the cache version.

    So, I wondered if you’d maybe been here and I was picking up an old cookie. Unless this PC has been to where you have.

    I saw the ‘edit’ button yesterday, clicked on it and it said “either you are out-of-time or you didn’t write this” which was fair enough. It didn’t happen again, until this morning, where your message was recent enough for editing, I guess….

  17. 42
    DJ Punctum on 25 Sep 2008 #

    ‘Fraid not. The furthest north I’ve been this week is Hendon.

  18. 43
    Tom on 25 Sep 2008 #

    It sounds like a privileges issue to me. Your call has been put in a queue etc etc.

    Or you’re the same person and hadn’t noticed. There are only seven people on the Internet, after all.

  19. 44
    Mark G on 25 Sep 2008 #

    I’m not even “logged in”

  20. 45
    admin on 25 Sep 2008 #

    The editing mix up is happening cos it works (currently and naively) by IP (and a time limit). And you are both appearing as the (firewall?) gateway at one specific ***.nhs.uk address from time to time.

    i know DJP has nearly always appeared as this or related addresses. even mark at #44 was coming from that IP. does this make sense, mark?

    i have often thought of scouring for a better comment edit plugin that uses ‘logged in’ness for better security.

  21. 46
    Mark G on 25 Sep 2008 #

    Yes, and yes.

    So, the chances of appearing to have the same IP address, means that there’s no point doing the lottery this week as I have used up my ‘pure chance’ on having the same IP as DJP!

  22. 47
    mike on 25 Sep 2008 #

    Yes, this is a wonderful record – and so I happily concur with all the Cliff-love in this instance.

    In its own way, “WDTA” has a more synthesised (or at least more synthetic) sound than “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?”. It’s shiny, it’s bright, it’s pristine perspex and glistening chrome – and so despite the lyrical theme of alienation, this has always struck a chord of intense reassurance with me. It’s a postcard from the mainstream, telling me that everything is functional and fine. But that’s a very subjective reading!

    I’d forgotten about the “shee-ee-ee-ee-ep”, though. Now, that’s what I call a WTF Moment…

  23. 48
    mike on 25 Sep 2008 #

    Oh, and it’s a shame that Cliff’s much desired sixth-decade Number One didn’t come courtesy of “What Car?” (#12 in May 2005, and his best effort in years.)

    Only Rick Rubin can save him now!

  24. 49
    DJ Punctum on 25 Sep 2008 #

    Or Kanye.

  25. 50
    H. on 25 Sep 2008 #

    Hmmm, I can’t really get behind this song. It’s not bad, it’s well constructed, but just sounds incredibly bland to me. I think I actually prefer the pompous earnestness of I Don’t Like Mondays to this…

  26. 51
    mike on 25 Sep 2008 #

    #50 – I suppose that partly depends on your tolerance for Alan Tarney’s hi-gloss production sheen. See also Tony Mansfield, Andy Hill, and the producer/vocalist of another upcoming 1979 Number One. All of whom shall be dealt with in the fullness of time!

    I’d also like to take this opportunity to admit a fondness for another Tarney comp/prod: Barbara Dickson’s “January February”. Cliff’s 1980 hit “Dreamin'” is also hewn from much the same mould.

    (This won’t be the last time that we’ll be discussing a Tarney production on Popular, either…)

  27. 52
    LondonLee on 25 Sep 2008 #

    Just listened to this again for the first time in donkey’s years and as I think someone said above it does sound more futuristic than ‘Are Friends Electric?’ – the glossy hi-tech sheen all over it is more 80s than the Numan record which sort of sounds primitive and analog in comparison (which is part of the charm it has these days), like it’s the dingy 70s idea of what the future sounded like while this is what the future sounded like.

  28. 53
    mike on 25 Sep 2008 #

    #52 – Yes, and was [producer/vocalist of another forthcoming 1979 Number One] quietly taking notes? Compare and contrast that introductory single-note bassline with the one used in Dollar’s “Mirror Mirror (Mon Amour)”, for example…

  29. 54
    LondonLee on 25 Sep 2008 #

    I was going to mention “Hand Held In Black and White” actually, that’s usually my Ground Zero record for the “80s sound”

  30. 55
    Conrad on 25 Sep 2008 #

    I have just returned from holiday and have some catching up to do – several of my favourite number ones reviewed and commented on in the past couple of weeks…aarrghh

    So, Sir Clifford. Well, I love this. A truly classic pop record, great production/arrangement/performance from all concerned.

    A solid 9 from me.

    Recently purchased Cliff’s I’m Nearly Famous album. Really enjoyed it. I was tickled to read of Jimmy Page wearing his “I’m Nearly Famous” badge in solidarity with Cliff’s return to his rock roots…

    And, in fact I like most of Cliff’s singles from 76-81.

  31. 56
    H. on 25 Sep 2008 #

    Interesting how many people here have commented on the supposed futurism of the song. Yes, it’s basically a synth song, but I don’t recall at the time remotely thinking this was futuristic, in the way I thought Numan or Bowie might be futuristic. I think synths taking over the arrangement in mainstream pop must have been around for a while now, although it hadn’t yet reached its apogee. The futurism of Numan was about his subject matter too, its angsty sci-fi existentialism.

  32. 57
    LondonLee on 25 Sep 2008 #

    Yes, but the bleak “futurism” of Numan’s songs dated back to Metropolis, George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, it was hardly new.

    I think at the time I thought “oh look, Cliff is getting all trendy”, not just because of the glossy sheen of the record but the skinny ties he was wearing on TOTP. Like he was hitching his wagon to New Wave.

  33. 58
    H. on 25 Sep 2008 #

    But it doesn’t really sound New Wave though, does it? Perhaps it’s some sort of precursor of the Stock Aitken Waterman sound of the late eighties?

  34. 59
    H. on 25 Sep 2008 #

    Also, I agree that there’s something retro about Numan’s futurism. That’s also true of Kraftwerk, Bowie, Ultravox, Joy Division etc. It’s not futurism per se, it’s a pop reworking of modernism.

  35. 60
    SteveM on 25 Sep 2008 #

    Actually, tenuous tho it may seem, something about the ‘groove’ or bassline on this song during the verses reminds me a little of the same in Tina Turner’s ‘We Don’t Need Another Hero’ – not the kind of song you’d suggest as sounding futuristic even tho it’s theme was obviously related to such.

  36. 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

  37. 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?

  38. 63
    Tom on 27 Sep 2008 #

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

  39. 64
    DJ Punctum on 27 Sep 2008 #

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

  40. 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”!

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 68
    DJ Punctum on 7 Oct 2008 #

    Sadly, Telex mainman Marc Moulin has just passed away.

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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

  47. 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.

  48. 73
    Ricardo on 18 Jun 2011 #

    Cliff Richard, “We Don’t Talk Anymore”

    Speaks for itself, right?

  49. 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!

  50. 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

1 2 All

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


If this was number 1 when you were born paste [stork-boy] or [stork-girl] into the start of your comment :)

Required

Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page