Jan 05

CILLA BLACK – “You’re My World”

Popular32 comments • 4,445 views

#170, 30th May 1964

It’s less irksome to hear the full-bore Cilla treatment given to a song you don’t know from subtler versions – and besides, she has competition here from a particularly piercing string arrangement. But even so my heart sinks as the Banner-Hulk transformation gets going and her voice deepens, booms and blasts. The shift also seems to take all the melodic intrigue out of the song and making it through the final bombastic minute is a real chore.



  1. 1
    Anonymous on 31 Jan 2006 #

    Doctor Mod says:

    After getting the Beatles signed to Parlophone, Brian Epstein started dragging all his other Liverpool “discoveries” into the recording studio. None of them, alas, had even a fraction of the Beatles’ talent, and George Martin was under pressure to make these less than luminary individuals sound as good as possible on disc. Cilla was one of them.

    One of Martin’s sonic “bandaging” techniques was quite simple–just drown them out with fortissimo instrumental arrangements at critical moments. This is overwhelmingly obvious with Billy J. Kramer’s version of “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” That loud piano bit serves as white noise so we can’t clearly hear the unbearablity of the vocals. In fact, it almost makes the passage sound intense. The strings on “You’re My World” are indeed piercing, as painful to an overly sensitive ear as fingernails scraping on a chalkboard. But try to imagine what you’d hear if those strings weren’t there.

    In some ways, I always feel like a bully in critiquing Cilla–she’s such an easy target. Her popularity in the sixties was based mostly on personality, and those who loved (still love) her could care less about her vocal shortcomings–indeed, some even seem to find them endearing. She had a certain underdog appeal and was cute and cheeky. But cuteness and cheek don’t age particularly well and become grotesque in a sexagenarian.

    Cilla could do well enough with something pop-ish and simple. She could even do herself proud with something written with her in mind (i.e., the Lennon / McCartney song “It’s for You,” possibly the best thing she ever did). Unfortunately, Cilla too often chose the big ballads that the greatest female singers of the period (e.g., Dionne and Dusty) could do almost effortlessly–but it takes an extraordinary singer to do them well. Her closest “peers,” Sandie and Lulu, could sing rings around her. Still, it might be possible to forgive her her limitations and remember her fondly if she’d only have faded away gracefully.

  2. 2
    Phil on 6 Dec 2006 #

    I think comparing the Cilla to the Beatles is hardly fair. Of all the Liverpool signings after the Beatles, Cilla was the most successful and her 60’s catalogue is certainly worth exploring. Dusty was quoted as saying that Cilla is a much better singer than people give her credit for, Alison Moyet has also praised Cilla’s voice, how good is that? Britain was fortunate in the 60’s on the girl singer front, you had Dusty, Cilla, Sandie, Lulu, Petula, Clodagh Rodgers, Julie Driscoll, Madeleine Bell, all of which had great voices and made some excellent records. We also had the pre-Beatles girls, Shirley Bassey, Helen Shapiro and Kathy Kirby. Some of the 70’s stars also made some excellent stuff, ie Kiki Dee & Elkie Brooks.
    I have been a fan of Cillas since 1968 and still enjoy her 1960’s and early-mid 70’s stuff.

  3. 3
    Marcello Carlin on 7 Dec 2006 #

    My favourite Cilla track is her reading of “I’ve Been Wrong Before” which I think just cuts Dusty’s in that the brusqueness midway actually makes the song’s internal doubt and apprehension more intense. When she crouched down intimately to the listener – “If I Thought You’d Ever Change Your Mind” or her “Misty Roses” – she could be very moving indeed. And yes, Bacharach had to coach her through fifty-odd takes of “Alfie” but he got what he wanted; that sharp, sobbing intake of breath before the “I” of “I believe in love” or the desperate high vibrato on the word “Alfie” over Burt’s final ascending whole tones.

  4. 4
    Suzy on 28 Dec 2006 #

    As mentioned in the post above, the Alfie recording session was tough. Here is some actual footage of the session –


  5. 5
    rubbersoul on 18 Sep 2007 #

    more sixties cilla stuff found here… in full agreement with marcello… i’ve been wrong before was a great vocal… but also the demo for step inside love with mccartney on acoustic guitar was sheer magic… black singing in a lower register. why george martin was so heavy handed with this artist was beyond me.

  6. 6
    rubbersoul on 18 Sep 2007 #

    http://www.thegirlfromabbeyroad.blogspot.com for 60s cilla

  7. 7
    Phil on 7 Nov 2007 #

    ‘World’ is one of Cilla’s finest moments and is one of the songs associated with her. I get very bored of people saying that she wasnt much of a singer, read the singles/album reviews in the NME/Record Mirror/Melody Maker in the 60’s and they all praised her singing highly. If you want to hear class listen to one of Cilla’s lesser known top ten hits ‘Conversations’, she sings it so very well, as many of my friends would confirm. When Record Collector reviewed her 1963-1978 3 CD set, the reviewer admitted that she is indeed a very much underrated singer.

  8. 8
    Marcello Carlin on 8 Nov 2007 #

    Hey Phil, I’m agreeing with you!

  9. 9
    Phil on 8 Nov 2007 #

    Thanks Marcello, I agree with your comment about Ive Been Wrong Before. In a 1965 Record Mirror article about the song Dusty said that it should have been huge for Cilla, praise indeed.

  10. 10
    wichita lineman on 12 Dec 2008 #

    Tom – You’re My World’s writer, Gino Paoli, did indeed write some beautiful, sensitive, gently melancholic things, so I’m guessing Il Mio Mondo is very good though I’ve never heard it. The soundtrack of Billy Wilder’s Avanti put me onto him – it’s all Paoli. Check Senza Fine and Che Cosa S’e for the kind of stuff we should have been placing as future Popular entries rather than This Is My Song and The Last Waltz.

    Warning: he does have a habit of re-recording his hits every few years so try and stick to the 60s originals.

  11. 11
    tim davidge on 1 Aug 2009 #

    As a result of a discussion started regarding a later record of non-English-language origin in these pages, I chased this one up on vinyl. That discussion also mentioned Gino Paoli, who wrote the original Italian lyric, who is credited along with Umberto Bindi (music) and Carl Sigman (English lyric).

    It’s been the rounds, this one. There are also versions of it in English (Tom Jones, Helen Reddy) and French (Richard Anthony) as well as the original Italian (Bindi himself, among others). None of them attempt to give it a subtle treatment because it’s not that sort of song. There’s an awful, awful lot at stake here. It’s describing (in whatever language it is sung) how easily the joy of love might turn into the tragedy of loss-the end of **everything** -and that means it positively demands the full-on treatment. Cilla-who is better, especially here, than she’s sometimes given credit for-duly obliges.

    Actually the pick of her two No.1s. Some nice touches in that arrangement, too. Were peoples sensibilities different in those days? Maybe.

  12. 12
    Billy Smart on 16 Dec 2009 #

    TOTPWatch: Cilla Black performed ‘You’re My World on the Top Of The Pops transmitted on 13 May 1964. Also in the studio that week were; Freddie & The Dreamers, Millie, The Four Pennies and The Fourmost. Pete Murray was the host. No copy survives.

  13. 13
    Billy Smart on 9 Sep 2010 #

    For comparison, here is the Umberto Bindi original;


  14. 14
    Billy Smart on 10 Sep 2010 #

    It’s the combination of two factors that makes this single so thrilling for me; George Martin’s arrangement and Cilla Black’s performance.

    Martin’s productions for the Beatles are forever and rightly lauded, of course: the great enabler, tactfully and modestly allowing the visionary music of the young mens’ imaginations to be brought to life. But this thoughtful sense of how to make records emotive and artful worked in other places, too – most remarkably in The Goons’ crazed hits of the 1950s, but also for more conventional pieces such as ‘You’re My World’.

    When we praise Cilla Black’s music of the 1960s, we tend to talk about her breathier and more vulnerable moments – Step Inside Love, Surround Yourself With Sorrow – these are tremendous singles, but skirt around from acknowledging that her most celebrated ability was to absolutely belt out songs, and not even in a controlled and phrased Shirley Bassey manner either, but with the overflowing emotion of a very young woman very eager to impress and to please. This vocal approach certainly provokes a fingernails-squeaking-the-blackboard aversion on the part of many listeners, and how I respond to it or not is very much dependent upon which song she’s attacking.

    ‘You’re My World’ is perhaps the ideal vehicle for a full-blooded Black performance. It has to be said that it is a pretty formulaic song – the premise of “I can’t live without your love” swiftly established and then amplified to greater and greater levels of dependence over three minutes. This sense of formula is accentuated by the fact that ‘You’re My World’ is a song in translation, starting life as ‘Il Mio Mondo’, a recent Italian hit for Umberto Bindi snapped up by Brian Epstein as a likely smash hit instant follow up to her chart-topping ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’.

    Martin and Black between them manage to make this old trope of a sentiment sound epochal. The single has the most brilliant introduction, a menacing seven seconds of strings, begging to be sampled;

    TCHANG!! Tchangtchang! Tchangtchang. (tchangtchang)…
    TCHANG!! Tchangtchang! Tchangtchang. (tchangtchang)…

    And an – as yet subdued – Cilla establishes what this song is going to be about;

    You‘re my world, you‘re every breath – I take
    You‘re my world, you’re every move – I make

    Some up-down piano scales and sedately swoopy violins over the next two lines;

    Other eyes see the stars up in the skies
    But for meeee they shine with-in – your – eyes

    This is already swelling a bit, but its soo obvious that its about to burst… When and how is it going to happen?;

    As the trees reach for the sun above…
    TCHANG!! Tchangtchang! Tchangtchang. (tchangtchang)…

    (YES! Those scary strings are back! I KNEW that had to happen!)

    So my arms reach out to you – for love
    With your haaaaahnd res-ting in miiiiiihn
    Hih feel a poooooow-er soh deviiiiiine –

    (YES! YES! Here it comes right NOW! – a great thunderburst of orchestration and vocals. We get the TCHANGTCHANG! but accompanied by trumpets this time – cueing in a Cilla unleashed;


    The trumpets have been joined by a full barrage of strings and some indecorously clumping drums;


    To support Cilla’s all-encompassing feeling with some divine gravitas, a host of heavenly voices appear from out of nowhere. They are backing vocalists The Breakaways, and it sounds as though there are a hundred of them…;


    The effect is like a hi-fidelity Abbey Road Studios approximation of Phil Spector’s Wall Of Sound. Trumpets offer a noisesome fanfare – DJANGDJANG! DJANGDJANGAJANG! – before Cilla reiterates the global scale of her love;


    The effect is then repeated over the remainder of the single, on a yet grander and louder scale. With a song like this, you really can’t go at it half-cock. A vast canvas, suitable for two talents who enjoy achieving a big music.

  15. 15
    Erithian on 28 Sep 2010 #

    A treat to hear an interview with Cilla on Radio 5 this morning on the occasion of the unveiling of a plaque at Brian Epstein’s former offices in Monmouth Street. She talked about her disastrous first audition with Epstein at the Majestic Ballroom in Birkenhead (“Lily Savage territory”) where she sang “Summertime” which the band were playing in totally the wrong key for her; 18 months later he saw her again on proper form and signed her up.

    She went on to recall how Paul McCartney wrote “Step Inside Love” as the theme tune to her first TV series in 1968. “He rang me and said, ‘I bet the BBC are trying to give you a Billy Cotton Band Show type theme song’ – they were – ‘so I’ll write you something. The idea is you’re not inviting yourself into the audience’s homes, you’re inviting them into yours.’ So he wrote it and it was a huge hit everywhere – except it was banned from radio in South Africa because they thought it was about prostitution!”

  16. 16
    Jimmy the Swede on 4 Oct 2014 #

    The final episode of “Cilla” featured this, her second number, one very heavily. I thought this three-part biopic was a triumph, almost entirely due to the perfomance of the remarkable Sheridan Smith, who sings as well as she acts. The tragedy of Epstein was also covered very well. Sheridan featured on “Who Do You Think You Are?” recently and came across as a totally delightful and unstarry young woman and provides ample evidence that pleasant people do sometimes succeed in this, a brutal industry.

  17. 17
    weej on 4 Oct 2014 #

    After watching this and reading up on Cilla a bit, I realised something odd – what do Cilla, Lulu and Lynsey de Paul all have in common? It’s something not that unusual among the general public, but puts them in a very small minority among professional musicians (or does it?)

  18. 18
    Mark M on 4 Oct 2014 #

    Re17: Well, indeed, in terms of those who talk about it. What they actually do once every five years in secret is another question, I guess.

  19. 19
    Jimmy the Swede on 5 Oct 2014 #

    It always surprised me that Lulu supported them. Her business, of course and when Paul Weller allegedly rudely made an issue of it, it’s a wonder the wee lassie didn’t knock the sanctimonious tosser out.

    Perhaps the mention of Lynsey de Paul enables us to mark her recent passing. An early Swede fantasy, it must be said. In fact I remember very clearly that “Sugar Me” was riding high just at the time I began my delightful senior school. The song stayed in my head throughout those uncertain early days when you were eleven, surrounded by strangers, and everyone around you was older than you.

  20. 20
    Tommy Mack on 5 Oct 2014 #

    Not to dispute Weller’s sanctimonious tosserdom but what’s the point of having a political conviction if you’re not prepared to act on it?

  21. 21
    Lazarus on 5 Oct 2014 #

    You act on it by campaigning for the party of your choice I suppose, not by hectoring and shouting down others who’ve come to a different conclusion. Having strong views is fine, it’s not the same as telling others what to think. Given that the majority of ‘pop stars’ never reveal their political allegiance, and most or all would be in the upper tax bracket, I suspect it was Weller and friends in the minority.

  22. 22
    Mark G on 6 Oct 2014 #

    Well, bear in mind Bev “Bev” Bevan did drum for Paul Weller one time, and he was a much more vocal supporter of the Tories.

    Still, to be quite frank, I’d give Roy Wood a total free pass to vote Tory, after he was completely shafted by Harold Wison et al out of the “Flowers in the Rain” publishing, even past the point where the publishing contract ran out and all the other Move songs reverted back to him.

  23. 23
    Tommy Mack on 6 Oct 2014 #

    Plus Weller’s own highly vocal support for the Tories around the time of the first Jam album. In No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, Johnny Rotten claims he saw him in a Union Jack suit, canvassing for the Conservatives outside Woking station…

  24. 24
    Mark G on 6 Oct 2014 #

    Ha, the very idea. John R going to Woking!

    Any road up, he’s got a new autobiography coming out in a couple of weeks, I’m getting one next sunday, at 2pm approx………..

  25. 25
    Jimmy the Swede on 7 Oct 2014 #

    #24 – Is Johnny doing a book-signing, then Mark? If so, where is it? Hay-On-Wye?

  26. 26
    Mark G on 7 Oct 2014 #

    That would be telling……. I doubt he’s doing a reading, anyway.

  27. 27
    Mark G on 9 Oct 2014 #

    Ah, it’s fatal to mention stuff that’s soon happening:

    He’s doing a book signing at Reading HMV (see, I did try to clue you in), it *was* going to be next sunday but now it’s this sunday so Johnny wont be meeting me

  28. 29
    Mark G on 9 Oct 2014 #

    I did, yes, thanks to the BBC website and Punctum’s link on another well known social app…

    It does seem they spent longer on the pics for the website than they did on the actual interview, but hey.

  29. 30
    lonepilgrim on 18 Mar 2015 #

    it’s unfortunate that the strings remind me of Psycho as that sets the tone for my reading of the song from then on. I was struck by how wobbly Cilla’s vocal sounds at the start – perhaps because she need to start low in order to hit the high notes later. I find the whole thing melodramatic and overbearing but perhaps if you had a taste for the operatic this might appeal more.

  30. 31
    Mark G on 18 Mar 2015 #

    When Ennio Morricone – Chi mai (Theme from Lloyd George) was a hit, that reminded me of this, introwise, as well.

  31. 32
    Gareth Parker on 8 Jun 2021 #

    I don’t mind some of Cilla’s singles. 6/10 here imho.

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