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Nov 04

CLIFF RICHARD AND THE SHADOWS – “Summer Holiday”

Popular8 comments • 2,460 views

#148, 16th March 1963

I’m writing this on one of the dampest, greyest, most uninspiring days of the year; the kind of day people imagine when they think of “British weather”. I don’t imagine February 1963 was much nicer: a canny release date choice for Cliff and company, making this dandelion-light song sound wistful and hopeful.

In ’63 the concept of a “Summer Holiday” abroad (let alone driving around Europe in a customised bus, like Cliff does in the film) was slowly turning from jet set dream to mass-market reality. “We’ve seen it in the movies / Now let’s see if it’s true” – this is a song about new prosperity, new possibilities. That’s why it struck such a chord, and that’s probably why it endures as one of Cliff’s signature tracks.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that it’s one of the songs where his matey big brother persona grates least. I’ve been generally harsh on Cliff Richard because (especially in his ‘romantic’ singles) he often turns the winsome knob way too high, but with the harmless breeziness of the early 60s about to be shunted mostly to one side I can afford a little generosity.

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Comments

  1. 1
    Rosalind Mitchell on 27 May 2005 #

    Can’t think how I missed this. Nor do I know if anybody’s going to read it but the point needs making for the archive.

    February 1963 wasn’t at all damp and grey. It was bloody freezing – literally! The snow started falling on Boxing Day 1962 and it stayed on the ground for weeks and weeks, well into March. At my Junior School we weren’t allowed out at dinner time (we had dinner time, not lunch time, up there on the Wirral). No wonder the country yearned for an overland trip to Greek sunshine, even if all there was at the end of it was Cliff in his string vest (!) before the Acropolis!

    ‘Summer Holiday’, the film, also has the distinction of being the first film I ever saw in a cinema. My Mum took me to the now defunct Plaza in Birkenhead, mainly because she wanted to see it herself!

  2. 2
    richard thompson on 12 May 2008 #

    It was a harsh winter then, I hadn’t long been born and had to sleep downstairs, there was no central heating, we had a log fire. This was Cliff at his peak, the Beatles were influenced by the shadows. They were at Pauls 21st in this year when Lennon had a fight with DJ bob Wooler who was at Beatle week 2000 when someone asked him about this incident he refused to comment on it.

  3. 3
    crag on 13 Apr 2011 #

    DESERT ISLAND DISCS WATCH:

    Sir Geoffrey Howe, politician (1986)

    Richard Branson, entrepeneur (1989)

    Saeed Jaffrey, actor (1997).

  4. 4
    Lena on 29 Jun 2011 #

    Another side of Cliff & the Shads: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.com/2011/06/turn-deaf-ear-cliff-richard-and-shadows-html thanks as ever for reading!

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    wichitalineman on 29 Jun 2011 #

    Lena, intrigued by your take on Don’t Talk To Him. It seems unlikely that it came out in the same year as Summer Holiday, which is a kind of peak/self-parody of the chummy unreal Cliff/Shads teenage world. To my ears the team were clearly stepping up to the oche with the early use of 12 string (sonically if not actually) on Don’t Talk To Him and the popcorn/Latin feel of the exceptional flip, Say You’re Mine. It’s a reflection on the Mersey boom, as well as sounding Anglo-American, just like the early Beatles with those Motown and girl group covers.

  6. 6
    Lena on 30 Jun 2011 #

    Bruce Welch wrote (I think) this song and I tend to think he was the one who pushed the group (Cliff in particular) forward; I am not sure how ‘forward’ Norrie Paramor would let them go, however. The Mersey boom is there for sure, and I missed the Latin feel, the subtle cha-cha that maybe would have been more emphasized live, maybe?

  7. 7
    wichitalineman on 1 Jul 2011 #

    Soz for being unclear, the Latin feel is securely belongs to Say You’re Mine. Bruce was certainly bossiest member of the group. Living Doll was a minor rocker (as heard in its unreleased movie version in Serious Charge) til he re-arranged it as a country stroller. So I think, yes, Summer Holiday has his stamp. I do love its easy charm, that light country touch, and, naturally enough, it reminds me of family hols driving down to Devon.

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    lonepilgrim on 24 Jan 2015 #

    I too associate this with family holidays – it’s an uplifting melody with a generous mood of expectation and contentment. It doesn’t promise the world but just a break for ‘a week or two’ but in a Britain beginning to look forward after Post-War shortages this must have seemed heady stuff. I had just turned three when this hit Number One but even with both my parents working we didn’t go on a long family holiday until I was six.

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