31
Mar 04

CLIFF RICHARD – ‘Living Doll’

Popular20 comments • 2,714 views

#88, 31st July 1959

The production on ‘Living Doll’ is pretty special – impeccably polite but amazingly intimate, Cliff sings like his lips are almost brushing your ear but Cliff being Cliff he wouldn’t so much as ruffle your hair without a chaperone’s permission. In fact the remarkable thing about ‘Living Doll’ is how fully-formed Cliff’s Cliff-ness is on his fifth ever single. It’s hackneyed because it’s true: cuts don’t come much cleaner than Cliff, the thoughtful delivery and spick-and-span production the perfected essence of ‘good English boy’. The persona is so solid it’s survived almost fifty years – the occasional changes of style barely impact, though the moralising has gradually become more overt. Cliff Richard has made much better and much worse records than ‘Living Doll’ but this is his Rosetta Stone.

For all that I can’t say it works well today. It sounds marvellous but Lionel Bart’s queasy lyric has aged badly ‘ Cliff smirking over his doll, showing her off before locking her away; it’s not offensive so much as just tiresome. It reminds me of some religious couples I’ve met ‘ terribly well-turned-out, him telling everyone how marvellous she is and her never so much as speaking.

3

Comments

  1. 1
    wichita lineman on 14 May 2008 #

    I’m reminded of a Simon Reynolds comment on Julian Cope’s Charlotte Anne which suggests the singer is literally inside your ear and it’s really not a nice feeling. Note the added reverb on the greatly superior sequel, also a number one.

    The version of Living Doll in the film Serious Charge has a backbeat to match his earlier 45s and is much more fun, the lyric coming across as playful rather than sinister. It’s never come out anywhere.

    Love Cliff or not, he’s ill-served on cd. A good dozen great 60s b-sides (invariably sparkier than the hits) have yet to surface. EMI take note.

  2. 2
    Billy Smart on 14 May 2008 #

    I’ve always thought that a properly annotated box set of all of Cliff’s A-sides in sequence would be a fascinating exercise in tracking 50 years of the development of mainstream pop.

  3. 3
    DJ Punctum on 15 May 2008 #

    But could you listen to it all the way through?

    He’s a curious fellow, is Sir Clifford of Richard. I recall that bizarre History of Pop As Cliff Sees It spectacular he put on at Wembley at the end of the eighties which seemed specifically to emphasise how well preserved he was and how youthful he looked in comparison with the rather alarmingly ageing (in comparison) Dallas Boys, Vernons Girls etc. he brought on stage with him, viz. hahah I have the SECRET and you are all CRINGING SUBJECTS of my SHADOWY KINGDOM!

  4. 4
    DJ Punctum on 15 May 2008 #

    Also his very skilful selective retelling of history in terms of the people he invited onstage, i.e. Pacemakers, Searchers, Pete Waterman, viz. “hehee is it any wonder I am so STRONG if this was the COMPETITION?”

  5. 5
    and everybody elses Mark G on 15 May 2008 #

    Guys! A properly annotated box of all his single A sides (and b-sides) does indeed exist! Including HonkTonkAng! No revisionism (for once)…

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Singles-Collection-Cliff-Richard/dp/B000069HG5

  6. 6
    DJ Punctum on 15 May 2008 #

    A lot of B-sides appear to be missing.

    Also it fails to pass the DJ Punctum Complete Cliff Test by omitting “This Was My Special Day” from 1965 which was his first flop single, though admittedly this was largely due to its only being available in the foyer of the theatre where he was appearing in pantomime.

  7. 7
    Billy Smart on 15 May 2008 #

    “Only 3 left in stock”… Oh God, I’m going to have to get this now. It’ll be like the exhaustive 8 disc Jonathan King box set, with about 20 good songs on it – but a painstaking exercise finding them.

    Re 3: There’s a funny line Robert Smith said in about 1983 “People are always saying that Cliff Richard looks 25, but if I was 25 and I looked like that, I’d kill myself”

  8. 8
    DJ Punctum on 15 May 2008 #

    Quite a lot in stock in HMV but going for about forty quid a throw.

  9. 9
    Billy Smart on 15 May 2008 #

    No, even for someone with my voracious curiosity for old and neglected pop music, £18 for the collected works of Sir Cliff is as high as I’m prepared to go.

    Oh, and that Billie Davis song, ‘The Last One To Be Loved’ turned out to be every bit as breathtaking as you made it sound, Marcello. Great!

  10. 10
    rosie on 26 May 2008 #

    Does anybody listen to box sets of anybody all the way through? A comprehensive box set of Cliff would seem a bit trying to me, especially given the prolificness of his output over an extended period, and the way that output became progressively more and more dire.

    Cliff is a bit of a thorny subject for me anyway because my big sister idolised him when she was about ten, and is alleged never to have grown out of it (I wouldn’t know, my sister and I have never been exactly close) It was in my nature even at five years old to take the opposite stance. Although sneakily I rather enjoyed some of the early Cliff.

  11. 11
    wichita lineman on 26 May 2008 #

    The Singles Collection doesn’t include any b-sides unless they were hits (Dynamite, the flip of Travellin’ Light which is an even better rocker than Move It). It misses out DJ Punctum’s theatre 45, and Angel (export only), but more startlingly there’s no Throw Down A Line (downer chugging rock with great swell-pedal work from Hank) or Joy Of Living (Cliff’s anti- road expansion song).

    No number 1s to trouble us (precious few Top 10s even), but 1969-73 was a most intriguing period for Cliff: Silvery Rain was about the evil of pesticides; Jesus, in spite of the title, has fabulous phased drums, a guitar line that sounds like Joe Meek producing Brian May, and a lyric about “the destruction of happiness, the destruction of the world”. Good album cuts on Tracks And Grooves and Sincerely, too, while 31st Of February Street was a concept album of sorts. This flop era climaxed with the Take Me High movie, starring Cliff as a businessman transferred to Birmingham who finds salvation in the ‘Brumburger’.

  12. 12
    rosie on 26 May 2008 #

    It was, of course, this and not Apache that was number one when I started school.

  13. 13
    Caledonianne on 26 May 2008 #

    Oh, God.

    Just noticed this became #1 the day I was born. You’d have thought my dear deceased papa would have bought one to keep for his very own little first-born.

    He did, however, spend (too) much of his life trying to do his best to please me, so I suppose that’s what counts.

  14. 14
    Billy Smart on 13 Jul 2009 #

    Light Entertainment Watch Cliff Special #1: As you might expect, Cliff Richard has been on British television hundreds of times over the last 50 years. To start with, here’s a list of his guest appearances on other people’s programmes which no longer exist;

    THE BILLY COTTON BAND SHOW: with Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Mrs Mills, Alan Breeze, Kathie Kay, The High-Lights, The Leslie Roberts Silhouettes (1962)

    BILLY COTTON’S MUSIC HALL: with Cliff Richard, Johnny Hackett, Kathie Kay, Nigel Hopkins, Ralph Reader’s Gang Show (1968)

    CILLA: with The Irving Davies Dancers, The Ladybirds, Cliff Richard, The Breakaways (1968)

    CILLA: with The Irving Davies Dancers, The Ladybirds, Frankie Howerd, Norman Vaughan, Scott Walker, Cliff Richard (1968)

    CILLA: with The Irving Davies Dancers, The Ladybirds, Terry Scott, Hugh Lloyd, Mike Yarwood, Sandie Shaw, Cliff Richard, The Breakaways (1968)

    CILLA: with The Irving Davies Dancers, The Ladybirds, The Dudley Moore Trio, Roy Hudd, Freddy Davies, Cliff Richard (1968)

    CILLA: with Cliff Richard, Dusty Springfield, Kenny Everett (1969)

    CILLA: with The Irving Davies Dancers, Cliff Richard, Dickie Henderson (1969)

    CILLA: with Jimmy Tarbuck, Cliff Richard, Liverpool F.C., Frankie Howerd (1971)

    DEE TIME: with Joe Brown, Robin Douglas-Home, The Easy Beats, Adam Faith, Cliff Richard, Lois Lane, The Paper Dolls (1968)

    DRUMBEAT: with The Jean-ettes, Cliff Richard with The Drifters (1959)

    GETAWAY WITH CLIFF: with Cliff Richard (1971)

    HERE’S TO THE NEXT TIME: with Cliff Richard, The Drifters, Dickie Valentine, Joan Regan, Lucille Graham, Mike Hall, The Joan Davis Dancers, The Mike Sammes Singers, Arthur Askey, Dickie Henderson (1959)

    IT’S LULU, NOT TO MENTION DUDLEY MOORE: with Cliff Richard, Graham Bonnet, Segment (1972)

    THE IVOR NOVELLO AWARDS: with W. E. Butlin, M.B.E., Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Anthony Newley, Helen Shapiro, Matt Monro, Johnny Dankworth And His Orchestra, Tony Osborne, Ron Grainer, The Ivor Raymonde Singers (1962)

    THE LIBERACE SHOW: with Cliff Richard, Tessie O’Shea, Janie Marden, Larry Storch (1969)

    THE LONDON PALLADIUM SHOW: with Jack Parnell and his Orchestra, The Palladium Dancers, The Mike Sammes Singers, Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Millicent Martin, Ray Fell, Mac Ronay, The Pusztia Troupe
    (1966)

    MOODS OF LOVE: with Cliff Richard (1974)

    OH BOY!: with Jimmy Henney, Cliff Richard, The Dallas Boys, Neville Taylor and the Cutters, Cherry Wainer, Peter Elliott, Lord Rockingham’s XI, The Drifters, The Vernons Girls, Red Price (1958)

    OH BOY!: with Jimmy Henney, Cliff Richard, The Dallas Boys, Neville Taylor and the Cutters, The Vernons Girls, Cherry Wainer, Peter Elliott, Red Price, Lord Rockingham’s XI, The Drifters (1958)

    OH BOY!: with Jimmy Henney, The Dallas Boys, Peter Elliott, Neville Taylor and the Cutters, Red Price, Cherry Wainer, Cliff Richard, The Vernons Girls, Lord Rockingham’s XI, ‘Cuddly’ Dudley (1958)

    OH BOY!: with Jimmy Henney, The King Brothers, Cherry Wainer, ‘Cuddly’ Dudley, Peter Elliott, Lord Rockingham’s XI, Cliff Richard and the Drifters, The Vernons Girls, Neville Taylor and the Cutters, Vince Taylor (1958)

    OH BOY!: with Tony Hall, Cherry Wainer, Cliff Richard, The John Barry Seven, Peter Elliott, The Dallas Boys, Dudley Heslop, Neville Taylor and the Cutters, Red Price, The Vernons Girls (1958)

    OH BOY!: with Tony Hall, Cliff Richard, Glen Mason, Cherry Wainer, ‘Cuddly’ Dudley, The Dallas Boys, Peter Elliott, Neville Taylor and the Cutters, The Vernons Girls, Red Price (1958)

    OH BOY!: with Tony Hall, ‘Cuddly’ Dudley, The Vernons Girls, Cherry Wainer, The Dallas Boys, Cliff Richard and the Drifters, Neville Taylor and the Cutters, The John Barry Seven, Peter Elliott, Red Price (1958)

    OH BOY!: with Tony Hall, Neville Taylor and the Cutters, Cliff Richard and the Drifters, Cherry Wainer, Peter Elliott, Colin Hicks, Vince Taylor, The Vernons Girls, Red Price, ‘Cuddly’ Dudley (1958)

    OH BOY!: with Tony Hall, Neville Taylor, Cherry Wainer, The Dallas Boys, The Vernons Girls, Marty Wilde, Ronnie Carroll, Jackie Dennis, The John Barry Seven, Cliff Richard and the Drifters (1958)

    OH BOY!: with Jimmy Henney, Cliff Richard and the Drifters, Mona Baptiste, Cherry Wainer, The Dallas Boys, Peter Elliott, Neville Taylor and the Cutters, Lord Rockingham’s XI, Red Price, Bill Forbes (1959)

    OH BOY!: with Jimmy Henney, Renee Martz, Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde, Red Price, The Dallas Boys, Cherry Wainer, Dickie Pride, Billy Fury, Bill Forbes (1959)

    OH BOY!: with Jimmy Henney, Shirley Bassey, Cliff Richard and the Drifters, The Dallas Boys, Don Lang, Neville Taylor and the Cutters, Cherry Wainer, Lord Rockingham’s XI, The Vernons Girls, Red Price (1959)

    OH BOY!: with Jimmy Henney, The Marino Marini Quartet, Cliff Richard, The Drifters, Ronnie Carroll, Neville Taylor and the Cutters, Cherry Wainer, The Dallas Boys, The Vernons Girls, Red Price (1959)

    OH BOY!: with Tony Hall, Lord Rockingham’s XI, Cherry Wainer, Marty Wilde, Cliff Richard and the Drifters, The Dallas Boys, Betty Miller, Neville Taylor and the Cutters, The Vernons Girls, Red Price (1959)

    OH BOY!: with Tony Hall, Marion Ryan, Cliff Richard and the Drifters, Marty Wilde, The Dallas Boys, Cherry Wainer, Vince Eager, Mike Preston, The Vernons Girls, Red Price (1959)

    OH BOY!: with Tony Hall, Marty Wilde, Cliff Richard and the Drifters, Alma Cogan, The Dallas Boys, Mike Preston, Cherry Wainer, Red Price, The Vernons Girls, Lord Rockingham’s XI (1959)

    THE ROLF HARRIS SHOW: with Cliff Richard, Lainie Kazan, Gordon Lightfoot (1969)

    SHOW OF THE WEEK: Cliff Richard and the Shadows (1966)

    SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE LONDON PALLADIUM (VAL PARNELL’S …..): with The London Palladium Girls, Bruce Forsyth, Jack Parnell and his Orchestra, Cliff Richard, The Shadows, Topo Gigio, The Tiller Girls (1964)

    SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE LONDON PALLADIUM (VAL PARNELL’S …..): with The Tiller Girls, Jack Parnell and his Orchestra, The Mike Sammes Singers, Cliff Richard, Jim Dale, Mike Goddard, Patricia Caron, The Kuban Cossacks (1973)

    THE TALK OF THE TOWN: with Cliff Richard, The Breakaways, Norrie Paramour and his Orchestra (1968)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Cliff Richard, Helen Shapiro, The Shadows, Billy Fury, Chubby Checker (1961)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Cliff Richard, The Shadows, Helen Shapiro, The Mudlarks, Karl DenverTrio, Robb Storme, Alvin Stardust, Barry Alldis (1961)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Brian Matthew, Cliff Richard, Kenny Ball And His Jazzmen, Ronnie Carroll, Petula Clark, The Karl Denver Trio, Craig Douglas, Frank Ifield, The Shadows, Helen Shapiro (1962)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Brian Matthew, Cliff Richard, Mark Wynter, Joyce Blair, Terry Scott, The Tornados, Neil Christian, The Monty Sunshine Band, Lionel Blair, Jimmy Young (1962)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Cliff Richard, The Shadows, Eden Kane, Joe Brown, The Vernons Girls, Candy Sparling, Pete Murray (1962)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Brian Matthew, Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Alma Cogan, Billy J. Kramer, The Searchers, Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, Brian Matthews (1963)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Brian Matthew, Cliff Richard, The Shadows, Bobby Rydell, Ronnie Carroll, The Rolling Stones, Christopher Sandford, The Breakaways, Gene Pitney, Dave Curtis and the Tremors (1963)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Brian Matthew, Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Mike Sarne, Susan Maughan, Helen Shapiro, The Mojos (1964)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Brian Matthew, Cliff Richard, Petula Clark, Del Shannon, The Fairies (1965)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Brian Matthew, Cliff Richard, The Animals, Susan Maughan (1965)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Brian Matthew, Cliff Richard, The Kinks, Danny Williams, Julie Rogers (1965)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Brian Matthew, Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Dusty Springfield, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Titch (1966)

    THE VAL DOONICAN SHOW: with The Gojos, The Adam Singers, Cliff Richard, Rolf Harris, Les Dawson (1967)

  15. 15
    inakamono on 29 Oct 2009 #

    Can I ask a rather obscure question about the way Cliff Richard’s entries on Popular are listed?

    It was my understanding that this record was attributed to “Cliff Richard and the Drifters” and that the next series of No.1s up to and including “Summer Holiday” were attributed to “Cliff Richard and the Shadows” — and that the first solo “Cliff Richard” No.1 wasn’t until 1965.

    But on this Popular listing, everything seems to be attributed to “Cliff Richard” as a solo item, apart from “The Young Ones” and “Summer Holiday” which for no specified rationale are attributed to “Cliff Richard and the Shadows”.

    Is there a reason for that?

    And please don’t misunderstand — this is not a question from some Cliff groupie: quite the opposite.

    If all the above are listed as Cliff solo records, he stands as the third most successful act in the history of UK No.1s (with 43 weeks at No.1) after Elvis (75) and the Beatles (69); but if a line can be drawn between solo releases and “Cliff and the Shadows/Drifters” releases, then he can be satisfactorily dumped from the top ten, with only 15 weeks to his credit (although “Cliff and the Shadows” would still tie with the Spice Girls for No.7, which perhaps is a suitable parallel, with 22 weeks).

    Knowing he wasn’t top three in history would, in a deliciously hard-to-define way, make me feel much better about life in general.

    Elvis Presley 75 weeks 1957-2005
    The Beatles 69 weeks 1963-1969
    Frankie Lane 32 weeks 1953-1956
    ABBA 31 weeks 1974-1980
    Take That 26 weeks 1993-2008
    Madonna 25 weeks 1985-2006
    = Cliff Richard and the Shadows 22 weeks 1959-1963
    = Spice Girls 22 weeks 1996-2000
    Slade 20 weeks 1971-1973
    Everly Brothers 19 weeks 1958-1961

  16. 16
    Erithian on 30 Oct 2009 #

    I think the story is that the original Drifters were Cliff’s backing band but the name was changed to The Shadows in early 1959 to avoid confusion with the US vocal group of the same name – although between “Move It” and “Living Doll” personnel changes had brought about a Sugababes scenario between the first Drifters and the band that became the Shadows.

    They were Cliff’s backing band throughout his most successful period and until circa 1965 (and stayed close associates afterwards), but it would be perverse to separate Cliff’s tally of hits with the Shads from that without them. (And why would it make you feel better if he wasn’t in the top three? He’s made a massive contribution to British pop, even if he is very keen to tell us so.)

    Actually what’s more perverse is Guinness’s decision to lump in all the Shadows’ hits with Cliff along with their hits as a band in their own right, which gives them 40+ weeks at number one and places them 4th in the list. Their (mainly) instrumental hits are a fine body of work, but I wouldn’t place them in the all-time top five acts.

  17. 17
    screaming lord byron on 30 Oct 2009 #

    ‘Why would it make you feel better?’ Because Frankie Laine is boss! The idea of him sitting behind only Elvis and the Beatles on an all-time list makes me want to buy the world a pint – of cool, clear, water of course.

  18. 18
    AndyPandy on 30 Oct 2009 #

    @15 but by that logic you’d have to deduct some of Elvis Presley’s weeks too because it sometimes credits “Elvis Presley with the Jordanaires” – but obviously in reality in both cases the backing-group/backing singers credits were very minor and the artists in question were undeniably having solo hits.

  19. 19
    crag on 13 Apr 2011 #

    DESERT ISLAND DISCS WATCH:

    Frank Ifield, singer (1965)

    Britt Ekland, actress (1994).

  20. 20
    hectorthebat on 21 Feb 2014 #

    Critic watch: This song featured on the following “best-of” lists:

    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    BBC (UK) – Pop on Trial, Top 50 Songs from the 1950s (2008)
    HarperCollins GEM (UK) – Single of the Year 1949-99 (1999)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

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