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Feb 11

CLIFF RICHARD – “Saviour’s Day”

Popular86 comments • 4,343 views

#655, 29th December 1990

There was a great deal of talk about entryism in the 1980s – it was said of many excellent bands, and Hue And Cry too, that pop hooks would be a Trojan Horse for subversive notions of situationism, socialism and continental philosophy to slip into the charts. But man, all those groups were amateurs next to Sir Cliff! Having established himself in 1988 as a man who could deliver some cosy Yuletide jumper pop, he turns round this year and unloads God on us, close range, both barrels.

This is not actually a Christmas record. It doesn’t mention Christmas once. It is a record about a holiday Cliff Richard has made up called Saviour’s Day in which people do things like praise God and give thanks for the birth of Jesus Christ – between you and me I don’t think it’ll catch on, but Cliff sounds even more enthusiastic about it than he was when he mixed it with booze and snogging two years before. There’s a suggestion that Saviour’s Day isn’t just how Cliff would like Christmas to be but also how it was long ago – there’s something very old-timey about its references to harvest time, long journeys from hills and valleys, raising glasses to the King (even if that’s Jesus again). The folksy rhythms and pipes underline this, though it’s a shame they couldn’t have found slightly more authentic-sounding presets – the whole record has the air of a somewhat cranky demo which Cliff decided to put out himself.

Which is quite an apt feel for it, really. This isn’t a particularly good record – those wretched pipes could sink it alone – but it’s honest and heartfelt in a way that most Christmas records since the 70s aren’t. I am not a Christian and so the religious side of Christmas feels very distant to me, far from the centre of a long co-opted and compromised (and all the more wonderful for that) festival. But even though “Saviour’s Day” sometimes drfts towards finger-wagging, I can feel the joy and sincerity in it – more so than in the sugared pill of “Mistletoe And Wine”, for certain – and I can’t begrudge its showing up here.

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Comments

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  1. 76
    Jimmy the Swede on 23 Aug 2014 #

    Cliff is still out in the Algarve just now, I think. I’ve seen him come through Customs a few times over the years. I don’t think Plod are getting ready to nick him for anything, which is just as well, since if there are indeed warrants out on him, the procedure is for the Woodentops to escort him through the Red Channel to a waiting Swede. This is in case we have “any Customs interest” in old Webby. That being a no, I would have just waved The Bachelor Boy straight through…although the temptation to start singing “The Minute You’re Gone” would have been painfully strong.

    Innocent until proven guilty, natch.

  2. 77
    Jimmy the Swede on 24 Aug 2014 #

    Well, clearly I was wrong. Cliff must have snuck back in. He volunteered his help with Yorkshire Plod inquiries and was interviewed under caution. He was neither arrested nor charged with anything.

  3. 78
    Lonepilgrim on 24 Aug 2014 #

    He moves in mysterious ways

  4. 79
    Lazarus on 24 Aug 2014 #

    Only managed # 57 in the end – fans hedging their bets, perhaps.

  5. 80
    Jimmy the Swede on 25 Aug 2014 #

    #78 – Not so mysterious then, Pilgrim, ol’ Cliff came in by private plane for the sole purpose of submitting himself to a friendly chat with Yorky Plod before returning to Portugal the same day by the same method. Perhaps we should have paid heed to his minor hit of 1971.

    “When the weather is fine,
    And the clouds have gone by,
    I go up in the air,
    Waving people goodbye,
    In my flying machine,
    I go up, I go down, I go round and round.”

    Yeah, I know…

  6. 81
    Adam on 29 Mar 2015 #

    I’m sorry folks, I know this guy is a national hero and someone every good Englishman aspires to be, but my heart just sinks every time he appears on this site… I think Cliff Richard is an unexceptional everyman who, if he weren’t in the right place at the right time, would be a volunteer Sunday music director for the village chapel. I get that there’s such a thing as a “gift for the banal” but this guy doesn’t hold a flame to Late Macca/Phil Collins/Elton John… he’s been running on the nostalgic exhaust emitted by the over-the-hill for decades and just listening to him while reading this blog is driving me into the left lane, I don’t know how you can refrain from grumbling over in Ground Zero.

    Had to get that off my chest.

  7. 82
    Lazarus on 31 Mar 2015 #

    I agree with you up to a point, but a lot of Cliff’s output from 1976-81 is worth checking out if you don’t know it (and I believe ‘Devil Woman’ went Top 10 in the US) – particularly recommended is 1980’s ‘Carrie’ which a few of us have been enthusing about recently on the Top of the Pops repeats.

  8. 83
    Tommy Mack on 2 Apr 2015 #

    Adam, let it go on record that I’m with you here. I find Sir Cliff tedious at times, creepy at others. Hearing his tracks pop up when I borrowed my wife’s ipod hasn’t massively changed my opinion (though Move It is the jam obviously) and his calendars look like something Gavin And Stacey’s Uncle Brin would post on his Facebook page.

    To be fair I haven’t heard much of the stuff Lazarus mentions so I should check it out, just wanted to let you know you’re not alone in your bemusement at Cliff’s National Treasure status

  9. 84
    Adam on 4 Apr 2015 #

    Yeah not even Carl Wilson’s Celine Dion book has helped me here, because I get that her fans simply enjoy her voice — which is quite literally one in a billion — so it makes sense that people looking for vocal virtuosity will find her amazing. And many of these seemingly “unexceptional” talents hold the hidden key in their personality: even if it’s someone who rubs me the wrong way, like Tom Jones, I can see why he’s got his swooners. Cliff Richard may fall into the latter category, but his charm may just be so foreign to me that I can’t see why he’s been chosen. I’ll give Lazarus’s recs a go in an exercise of radical empathy, though.

    EDIT: I was just thinking about a convo I had yesterday with a Straits Chinese friend who loves WestLife (yeah this blog makes good conversation fodder). It seems that of the whole wealth of emotions music can invoke (and the variety is what makes Western pop great), if you’re going for pleasantness, WestLife may be the best option from a certain angle. Maybe Richard is able to communicate pleasantness in a manner perceived as totally authentic better than most?

  10. 85
    Tommy Mack on 4 Apr 2015 #

    I used to live next to the Albert Hall in a filthy attic flat with eight other Imperial students. One day I got chatting to some elderly women who were camped outside the Hall. Turned out they were queueing for Cliff Richard tickets. I kind of wish I’d asked them more about what they see in him. (Although you can’t really do that without being patronising in a Louis Theroux-ish kind of way). I’d imagine they’d been fans since his teen idol days and nostalgia for the buzz they’d felt back then was a big part of it. Clearly they didn’t need to camp overnight to get tickets on the day of sale, they just enjoyed the experience and perhaps the cred it gave Cliff that people would still camp out to buy his tickets.

    My wife never seems to big him up or express any interest despite having his music on her ipod (and she’s certainly not someone concerned about being cool where pop culture is concerned!)

  11. 86
    fireh9lly on 22 Jun 2017 #

    <– Half of my birthday Number 1 singles through my whole life have been whatever the reality show single was that year, a chunk are charity records, and I still hate this one more than any of the others on my list. It's sentimental and nostalgic in a way that locks human beings out. It's a version of Christianity with no hint of radicalism or love, a version steeped in his 50s-boy-star-who-never-grew-up immaturity, where all the neighbours work hard in real jobs and are all white. It's what emotions feel like to the Daily Mail set. I loathe this record and the only nice thing I can say about it is that I don't hate it nearly as much as I hate The Millennium Prayer, which I was made to sing in primary school.

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