16
Feb 11

CLIFF RICHARD – “Saviour’s Day”

Popular88 comments • 6,420 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.

4

Comments

  1. 1
    Billy Smart on 16 Feb 2011 #

    Hm, I don’t mind this one although I couldn’t quite stretch myself to describe it as actively good.

    It works best in the context of the video come across by chance at Christmas time – the coastline (Scottish?), Cliff’s power ballad miming, the tribes of Cliff’s bejumpered nice people gathering to celebrate (with) him. It always amuses me in an affectionate way, rather than a scornful one.

  2. 2
    Chelovek na lune on 16 Feb 2011 #

    Definitely – in fact *much* – better than “Mistletoe and Wine”, anyway. Also much better than both the following year’s “seasonal” offering by Cliff AND its EXCEEDINGLY rapid follow-up, “This New Year”, too.

    I must have missed Cliff promoting booze and snogging, even during his mini-SAW-fest of ’89. (And what of Whenever God Shines A Light, or From a Distance…) Oh his cover of “Silhouettes” I suppose almost fits that description, but that cover was so pointless I had almost forgotten it existed. I think there might even be a case that this record is less finger-wagging than some of his straightforwardly pop singles of the previous couple of years, actually (e.g. Lean On You, maybe The Best of Me).

    Anyway I like it. Not a lot, but I do.

  3. 3
    Tom on 16 Feb 2011 #

    I was surprised by how much I relatively liked this, just as I was surprised by how much I relatively didn’t like Ice Ice Baby. At the time, being 17, I thought all this nice-jumperishness was very silly.

    Also – this is important – you very rarely hear it compared to MAW.

  4. 4
    Tom on 16 Feb 2011 #

    #2 “booze and snogging” = wine and mistletoe! Nothing more.

  5. 5
    Chelovek na lune on 16 Feb 2011 #

    #4 I’m sure nothing like that was going on at Cliff’s Xmas parties! Perish the thought

  6. 6
    Billy Smart on 16 Feb 2011 #

    TOTPWatch: Cliff Richard twice performed Saviour’s Day on Top Of The Pops;

    December 6 1990. Also in the studio that week were; Twenty 4 Seven featuring Captain Hollywood, The Farm and Vanilla Ice. Mark Goodier was the host. This was the 1400th edition, and Cliff marked the anniversary by wearing a gold bomber jacket.

    December 25 1990. Also in the studio that Christmas were; Beats International, The Beautiful South, Bomballurina, Elton John, Kylie Minogue, Adamski, Sinead O’Connor, Londonbeat and Status Quo. Anthea Turner and Mark Goodier were the hosts.

  7. 7
    Chelovek na lune on 16 Feb 2011 #

    Cliff was the best of the live acts on that 1400th edition by all accounts.

    Not necessarily the worst, but certainly the most embarrasing:

    “Twenty 4 Seven in full effect. Yo Jaxman What you dreaming of? Peace! for the east and west. Love! for the animals, Prayer! for all of us.”.

    (or something. I really haven’t heard that record since. I seem to recall they became quite big in post-Communist Eastern Europe and feel no desire to track it down, as it was absolute dross)

    That was a horribly self-righteous record.

  8. 8
    Tom on 16 Feb 2011 #

    I attempted to foist a Twenty 4 Seven revival on the world when I picked “Leave Them Alone” as the Dutch entry in the 2006 Pop World Cup. The world was not ready. :(

    I am – as we will all learn soon enough – very fond indeed of earnest 90s Eurodance.

  9. 9
    Billy Smart on 16 Feb 2011 #

    I’d certainly rather listen to Savior’s Day than All Together Now by The Farm, the ‘credible’ baggy Christmas hit amongst undemanding ‘proper geezer music’-types that year. What a plodding whine of a song.

  10. 10
    Tom on 16 Feb 2011 #

    #9 Cosign x 1 million. I had been a big baggy fan but that was the moment the scales fell from my eyes really.

  11. 11
    weej on 16 Feb 2011 #

    “Not as bad as ‘Mistletoe & Wine'” doesn’t exactly sound like an endorsement, but this was a genuinely relief in it’s inoffensiveness, apart from that horrible synth-pan-pipe solo of course. Still only gets a 3 from me though.

  12. 12
    Chelovek na lune on 16 Feb 2011 #

    #8 Erm, to avoid upsetting the SB, I guess I have to say the opposite of what I would really like to say…

    So, “Yes, yes…”

  13. 13
    punctum on 16 Feb 2011 #

    “Saviour’s Day” was the third consecutive Christmas number one to involve Cliff, and the fortuitous coincidence of its release coming in the same year as his 50th birthday ensured that he became the first artist to hit number one in all five decades of the singles chart’s existence, despite there being far worthier and more valuable contenders in 1990 – the Farm’s “All Together Now” with its mix of Scouse baggy, Pachelbel canon, WWI truces and Pete Wylie on backing vocals, and “Justify My Love,” one of Madonna’s greatest singles and certainly the best record in which Lenny Kravitz has ever been involved, being but two of them (they peaked at four and two respectively). But there was a cosy consensus on the comfortable hearth of Cliff At Christmas, and “Saviour’s Day” comes across as a more rockist variant on “Mistletoe And Wine,” another hearty waltz of blessings (“Raise your glasses and drink to the King!”) set against expensive, slightly portentous New Age synths, crashing drums and jaunty flute (the latter played by Jamie Talbot, the fine jazz saxophonist who once soloed on Scritti’s “A Slow Soul”), the whole sounding like a pre-emptive template for the Corrs, including the rather irritating military drum tattoo at the end. Once again, it’s not my world, but it’s not really possible to loathe.

  14. 14
    lonepilgrim on 16 Feb 2011 #

    This seems to have vanished from playlists – it’s not a song I can recall hearing since then. A friend of mine used to do the sound around this time for a Christian band called Iona that ploughed a similar Celtic-lite furrow. I find it bland and disappointing like most if not all ‘Contemporary Christian’ music.

    I reckon the scenery in the video is the Isle of Wight – it’s the white Cliff on the white cliffs!
    There are some inadvertently humorous moments in the video such as the old man guiding two boys towards the edge and Mrs Merton appears to be standing wearing a red shawl behind Cliff at one point.

  15. 15
    Billy Hicks on 16 Feb 2011 #

    The last Christmas #1 to date to actually have some kind of reference to the festive season, bar a charity release 14 years later that covered an old song. It also gives Cliff the rare honour of appearing on three consecutive Xmas #1s, including MAW and his guest vocal on Band Aid II.

    As ‘cool’ as it is these days to knock the guy, there’s something very nice and quaint about the basic production used, sounding like it was done on a Casio keyboard. There was a time when all television theme tunes and advert music used to sound like that. To go from Vanilla Ice to this is a pretty huge jump back, even the video seems to throw back to ‘Mull of Kintyre’ yet seems even more out of its time. And Cliff singing on the edge of a…yep, cliff, is a nice touch.

    So yeah, it’s ok, but again tells me nothing about 1990 and makes me wonder what’s happened to those exciting sounds of Adamski and Snap we had earlier in the year. Sick of the ballads, we need something upbeat at #1!

  16. 16
    flahr on 16 Feb 2011 #

    Looking very trendy-vicar on the sleeve isn’t he? 4

  17. 17
    thefatgit on 16 Feb 2011 #

    I have to cuncur with the rest and say it’s not bad if you like that sort of thing. There’s still a slight sense of Wicker Man-ness in the arrangement, but less so than MAW.

  18. 18
    Rory on 16 Feb 2011 #

    Those cliffs: Wikipedia says “The music video for “Saviour’s Day” was filmed in Dorset, in the town of Swanage and at Durdle Door.”

  19. 19
    MikeMCSG on 16 Feb 2011 #

    Despite DJP’s claims for The Farm and Madonna (people were buying the album instead) I think Cliff took this one by default, the competition being unusually weak for Christmas.

    I think “inoffensive” is the key word here. Being old school RC I’m not really in tune with Cliff’s evangelism but unlike that awful thing with Van Morrison it’s toned down here.

    Of course the most memorable thing about this chart-topper is what dethroned it ….

  20. 20
    punctum on 16 Feb 2011 #

    “Weak” in terms of comparative sales? Hardly likely – I’m writing about both the Madonna and Farm songs as they both came, or are to come, off number one albums – and qualitatively it certainly wasn’t the case.

  21. 21
    pink champale on 16 Feb 2011 #

    no way is this better than ‘ice ice baby’! that aside, i agree with the general mood of ‘not nearly as bad as you’d expect’. if i wasn’t such a cretin in technical matters i’d do some blue writing to link to something on the most glorious of all made-up celebrations – festivus.

  22. 22
    lonepilgrim on 16 Feb 2011 #

    I remembered that the Cliff pun had previously been referenced by David Hockney in one of his paintings from his time at the RCA in the early 60s – which included the text, taken from a newspaper, that read ‘two boys spent night clinging to cliff’

  23. 23
    thefatgit on 16 Feb 2011 #

    @21 KillWhitneyDead’s “Jingle Hell” uses some Festivus quotes among the Bad Santa, Home Alone and South Park samples.

  24. 24
    wichita lineman on 16 Feb 2011 #

    I particularly like the electronic cat noise at 3 mins 34.

    SD is quite pleasant, but not really that memorable, flute line aside; no “Christian rhyme”-style stick to beat Cliff with, either. He really had made much better records ten years earlier.

    Can I suggest his best Xmas single – which fell one place short of Popular – was in 2006?

  25. 25
    23 Daves on 16 Feb 2011 #

    @14 – There was, of course, a bit of a folk-Christian music crossover for some time (and it may still be going on for all I know – I don’t really get out much these days). Parchment were the absolute Gods of Christian folkiness in the seventies, and actually issued some very pleasant, Incredible String Band-esque tracks in their day, which all sound soothingly mystic and rustic if you ignore the fact that the contents of their lyrics are almost entirely Jesus propaganda (try “Love Is Come Again” for size if you can track it down). “Saviour’s Day” isn’t as authentic as that, but it does seem to be taking that kind of Christian music as the foundation for its sound.

    It does seem to me that however diverse his influences are or whatever Cliff tries, however, he always remains stuck within his general Cliffness. There are a few choice exceptions in his catalogue, but the thing which turns me off any single of his tends to be his voice first and foremost, which seems incapable of expressing joy, distress, love or hope in anything other than that half-arsed gentle tone with those exaggerated, highly rounded vowels. It seems hesitant, polite and considered. It’s the audio equivalent of being smothered by a hundred wool cardigans, or being forced to lick velvet.

    I know that people like Bob Stanley have tried to persuade us in recent years that Cliff has been unreasonably written off by critics, and I’d be inclined to agree that anyone who has had as long a career as him usually deserves to be given some kind of reassessment. However, whenever I do try and delve into his catalogue, I just can’t find a way to appreciate most of his output. There are eccentric oddities here and there (the environmental ditty “The Joy of Living” is an unlikely single) but his performance is always the same. It’s mostly for that reason alone that I can’t be bothered to give this more than a 3. Oh, that and the fact that those panpipe presets are a nastily bone idle piece of arrangement.

  26. 26
    MikeMCSG on 16 Feb 2011 #

    # 20 Weak as in, Madonna apart, no really big act of the time put out a single for the Christmas market.

  27. 27
    swanstep on 16 Feb 2011 #

    The Beast Within Mix for Xmas #1, what an opportunity missed…

  28. 28
    chelovek na lune on 16 Feb 2011 #

    @25 The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus (who were far less aggressive, and less evangelical, or at any rate less Evangelical, than their name might suggest) are the bees’ knees when it comes to folk-Christian crossover. I can’t recommend their music highly enough. (Yeah: statement of interest: I am a practising Catholic)

    “Mirror” and “The Gift of Tears”, both from round about late ’80s are both splendid, and occasionally deeply moving, albums. And quite like little from before or since. I think the group were from the Liverpool area, and enjoyed next to zero commercial success. Illegal mp3 downloads may be available with some careful searching – you’d be really lucky to find anything of theirs available legally anywhere, alas.

  29. 29
    anto on 16 Feb 2011 #

    Better than Mistletoe and Wine in almost every respect.
    The arrangement has some lift to it where Mistletoe.. just plods.
    The verses are inclusive rather than sanctimonious and the swaying chours is good-natured and catchy rather than just instilling itself through repetition. Only the production lets it down.
    The video is reminiscent of Highway the 1980s Sunday tv series where
    another 50s ” subversive ” turned cuddly family entertainer Mr. Harry Secombe would travel the UK looking for places of interest to sing hymns in front of.

    A lot of appreciation for Justify My Love in the last two threads.
    I’m gonna have to dissent I’m afraid. I find it as oily and flimsy as just about any other thing Lenny Kravitz has had a hand in.
    The exuberance of Lucky Star or Like a Virgin are a dozen times sexier.

  30. 30
    hardtogethits on 16 Feb 2011 #

    #15 I love that opening fact, thank you.

    Recalling the battle for the Christmas number one in 1990, there certainly was a perception at the time that the competition was weak. I knew we were in trouble when a TOTP presenter was inclined to make a lame pun about “The Farm” being number one at Christmas – clarifying that he meant Malandra Burrows from Emmerdale Farm, not ‘Altogether Now’ by the Farm. Ho Ho Ho. Malandra finished 14th, having peaked at 11. The big names went for it though with Christmas releases – New Kids On The Block, Madonna, Pet Shop Boys, Beautiful South, Snap!, Shakin’ Stevens, Jive Bunny. Hindsight tells us two things: 1. These lot really were in decline, and 2. They misjudged their Christmas singles. The two might be linked. I don’t know how I feel about Justify My Love, but I know it never had the widespread appeal to be a Christmas number one.

    When Cliff finally triumphed, with his strangely laboured climb of the charts (6-3-2-1), it was like watching the favourite win a horse race because most others fell. Worthy, admirable, but hollow – unedifying, even (which is ironic given the moral intent of the record).

    As for the record itself, I fall into line. Cliff has a song that perfectly suits him, and it sounds like he wants us to all have a good time on his terms. If you like That Time Of Year (and I do), it’s fairly likely that this song will make a connection with you. I can smell the pine needles when the music starts. Furthermore, it’s unlikely to have bored you through repetition; of all the really big festive pop songs, it may well be the least exposed. 5.

  31. 31
    wichita lineman on 16 Feb 2011 #

    Re 25: Cliff’s voice is undoubtedly creamy, some might say smarmy, and this is a potentially insurmountable stumbling block. But I can think of plenty of Proper Pop Stars whose emotional reach is limited – Kylie springs to mind – and it doesn’t stop me enjoying their work, or being able to differentiate between their good and their mediocre efforts. If I had to name one song in his defence I’d say Cliff makes a pretty good fist of Miss You Nights, given its very uncomfortable mid-life breakdown lyric.

    I see a lot of albums on the Myrrh label in charity shops and always think “maybe…? Nah…” Parchment records, too. Am I missing out? I know there are some impressively oddball Christian US psych albums, but I haven’t heard them either. I can’t even get into gospel. The church is a real stumbling block for me.

  32. 32
    Izzy on 16 Feb 2011 #

    Sharing the hate for ‘All Together Now’ here. That effing sample in the beat is sheer murder. I watched One Night In Turin recently and it was ruined (okay, just a teeny bit) by Hooton et al droning over the end credits.

  33. 33
    hardtogethits on 17 Feb 2011 #

    #32. That sounds like such an obvious anachronism – that a record released after the World Cup would be used in a film about it. I needn’t ask “Did it work?” as you’ve answered that by saying the music spoilt the film.

  34. 34
    weej on 17 Feb 2011 #

    I have to admit to being a little surprised at the overwhelmingly negative reaction of ‘All Together Now’ – I still remember it fairly fondly, and listening to it again it still sounds pleasant to my ears. Of course some parts of it are a little overcooked – they could take away those thudding guitar chords that come in every 20 seconds or so, and the transitions are a bit clumsy – but even the intro alone makes me feel a little nostalgic for this time.

  35. 35
    Ed on 17 Feb 2011 #

    @14, 25, 31: Why can’t we “do religion” in pop any more? There was a time when great popular music could be unashamedly religious: Al Green, Aretha Franklin, John Coltrane, Johnny Cash, Van Morrison. The tension between the spirit and the flesh generates the intensity for many of the most thrilling songs of the 20th Century. But these days – since the 1970s, as Tom says – it has been impossible for great pop to be religious, or for religious music to be great, or even passable, pop.

    I wonder why that is. Western societies were already pretty secular by the seventies, the US maybe even more so than it is today. But the ability to draw on the churches’ wells of passion and inspiration, which was still alive 40 years ago, appears to have completely disappeared.

    U2 I guess was the last real outbreak of religious fervour in mainstream pop or rock. I loved their early God-bothering as a teenager, and I am still fond of it. Achtung Baby is probably the last great rock album about (loss of) faith. But none of their successors have picked up on that earnest spirituality.

    The last great religious songs that I can think of have are on ‘The College Dropout’. ‘Jesus Walks’ and ‘Never Let Me Down’ are both sincere and rapturous. But Kanye decided to take another route pretty quickly. The “Christian in Christian Dior” line always makes me cringe.

    It doesn’t seem to just be Christianity, either. Youssou N’Dour’s religious album is nice enough, but it’s a whole lot less fun than his pop stuff.

  36. 36
    Ed on 17 Feb 2011 #

    @35: OK, ‘Like a Prayer’ maybe an exception

  37. 37
    lonepilgrim on 17 Feb 2011 #

    re 35 & 36 I have a fondness for Gillian Welch’s faith infused songs on ‘Revival’

  38. 38
    punctum on 17 Feb 2011 #

    #35: Not so, but this is one of many reasons why we need to push on with our 2010 EoY list since we have proof to the contrary.

  39. 39
    Tom on 17 Feb 2011 #

    #35 i think one issue isn’t so much that pop got more secular but that many of the specific emotions religious music dealt with – questions of self-doubt, self-transcendence, a yearning for authentic experience – got so effectively secularised as part of rock.

  40. 40
    Rory on 17 Feb 2011 #

    “Effectively secularised as part of rock” – Exhibit A.

  41. 41
    Mark G on 17 Feb 2011 #

    Am I allowed to point out the Sid Vicious sample on “All Together Now” ?

  42. 42
    will on 17 Feb 2011 #

    Despite the fact 1990 was one of the last years when the race for the Christmas Number One genuinely felt exciting I was fairly ambivalent that this ultimately came out on top. It’s not quite as irksome as MAW, though that isn’t saying much.

    After this a Cliff Christmas single seemed to turn up every year. Most were completely forgettable, with perhaps the sole exception being the rather lovely I Still Believe In You from Xmas 92.

    By the way, I believe I’m right in saying that this was the first year the Christmas and New Year Number Ones were two different records.

  43. 43
    anto on 17 Feb 2011 #

    Re 34: I’m a bit taken aback by that myself. I know The Farm were never considered cool but I had assumed there was some goodwill
    towards All Together Now which I agree is a pleasent tune with a
    thoughtful anti-war message.

  44. 44
    Tom on 18 Feb 2011 #

    I didn’t mind The Farm – had “Stepping Stone” on a Beechwood comp and thought it was pretty good, and “Groovy Train”? Well, “Groovy Train” was a baggy record which came out in the summer of baggy, and so it matched everything else I was listening to. Don’t think I bought it but I didn’t dislike it. “All Together Now” I really disliked tho – like a really lumbering, even heavier-handed “Pipes Of Peace”. I think I felt – absurdly – a little bit betrayed by it, this music which was *just as music* speaking to me a lot about open-mindedness, tolerance, mixing stuff together. It didn’t NEED bringing out of the subtext. Maybe if I’d been a bit older I’d have been happier with it.

  45. 45
    George on 18 Feb 2011 #

    The Farm’s Greatest Hits is as omnipresent on the CD racks at motorway service stations up and down the land as ‘No Parlez’ is in the charity shops.

  46. 46
    DanielW on 18 Feb 2011 #

    Yikes, I find myself disagreeing with just about everything mentioned so far. Firstly, I absolutely detest “Saviour’s Day”, it’s almost the dictionary definition of bland. With those detestable pipes it sounds like it could be the theme tune to one of those wretchedly awful early-90’s Sunday evening BBC Drama’s like “Howard’s Way” or “Trainer”. Infact, if I remember correctly, Cliff did provide the theme tune to the latter and it was almost as awful as this one. For me, this is Cliff’s worst record – yes even worse than a record I cannot mention for fear of a bunnyslapping.

    Both the new singles Madonna released from The Immaculate Collection were rather weak I thought. “Justify My Love” was a dull, plodding affair which seemed to go absolutely nowhere. Yes it was moody and atmospheric but that was about it really.

    As for The Farm’s “All Together Now”, well I preferred “Groovy Train” but this single was OK and doesn’t really deserve the brickbats it’s received so far.

  47. 47
    Ed on 19 Feb 2011 #

    @37: Good point. Welch is wonderful, and even her ostensibly secular music is full of Christian imagery and sensibility. Exhibit A here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lo-xdqz4ryc

    It is a bit different for her, though, because she is working in and around the only popular music tradition where overt religiosity is still allowed, and indeed encouraged, sometimes sublimely:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gyqjSn-q34

    and sometimes ridiculously:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lydBPm2KRaU

    House, actually, is sometimes an exception to my rule, as well. Like this, for example:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=453ReMKcWsA

    And ‘It’s Alright’ is a hymn, isn’t it, where “the music”=God.

    Also, I don’t know much about Jamaican music, but am I right in thinking that recently there has been a bit of a revival of “conscious” reggae and Rastafarian themes?

    @38: I was already looking forward to it keenly. Now I am even more intrigued…

  48. 48
    heather on 19 Feb 2011 #

    Gave this a reluctant 2 because, as you say, it’s better than ‘Mistletoe and Wine’, even though it’s less pagan. Also less popular, so I have the joy of hearing it less often.

    “Altogether now” is real baggy-by-numbers. It says a lot about indie marketing techniques that the awesomely groovy “Fools Gold” didn’t chart higher. That should have been a top 5 song.

  49. 49
    Ed on 21 Feb 2011 #

    @9, @44, etc: Surely the crucial thing about “All together now” was its timing. Released in November 1990, it accompanied the huge build-up of US-led coalition forces preparing to invade Kuwait. 43,000 British personnel were among the troops massing in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

    At the time, no-one could be sure that the Iraqis would capitulate so quickly – the war lasted only about six weeks, from the launch of the first air strikes on January 17 – and there were predictions of a huge catastrophe. There was a real mood of impending dread in the air, of a kind we had probably not felt since the seventies.

    Just because the war was short, of course, does not mean those predictions of horrific consequences were unrealised. 20,000-plus Iraqis were killed, and no-one who has seen the pictures of the road to Basra will ever forget them. The war also inaugurated a new phase in the West’s imperial involvement in the Middle East, which we are still mired in today.

    In that context, ‘All Together Now’ seems much more potent than the sort of baggy/sentimental, loved-up lads’ footie anthem that many people remember.

    It explains Cliff’s more sombre mood, too. This year, of all years, he needs to make sure we understand that the spirit of Christmas is about more than booze and snogging.

    It also explains why my cassette version of ‘Blue Lines’ is by a group called Massive, their real name being judged too insensitively topical at the time of release.

    Also – groping here – wasn’t ‘All Together Now’ an old Farm song, from their pre-baggy days, that they dusted off and re-tooled as a comment on the impending war? If so, it might not be anachronistic to have used it in a film about Italia ’90.

  50. 50
    Mark G on 21 Feb 2011 #

    I believe it was called “No Man’s Land” and was part of a peel session (just checked: It’s on an album called “Pastures Old and New”, on good old “Fire” records.)

  51. 51
    Steve Mannion on 21 Feb 2011 #

    That Massive Attack name-change issue was always ridiculous (but great to see how MA would become among the most vocal critics of subsequent government approaches to the situation). IIRC Bomb The Bass also struggled to make playlists around this time.

    I remember the year ending gloomily on account of the war (and probably impending recession too) but being used to that sense of foreboding throughout the 80s – the dramatic upheaval at the end of that decade proving a brief respite. All of which made the escapist fantasy aspect of much rave music at that point (both on record and in flyer art) ever more appealing.

  52. 52
    Erithian on 21 Feb 2011 #

    Reading the Wikipedia entry to which Rory links above, one learns Durdle Door has been used as a video location by Tears for Fears, Billy Ocean and Bruce Dickinson as well as Cliff. Obvious gag, but imagine if they’d all turned up at the same time.

    Never afraid to go against the grain, although the music around him in the chart was decidedly secular, Cliff was there to promote the essential thing about his life and make it clear that it was something that gave him all the joy and the kicks he’d ever need, with no substances involved. As a sales pitch for his beliefs and lifestyle, and a non-hectoring invitation to join him in them, it’s hard to argue with it. And a good listen, on the whole, even for those who weren’t planning to join him.

    “Justify My Love”, on the other hand – unlike some of her other material, Madonna isn’t trying too hard on this one, just pushing the intensity – come to think of it, promoting the essential thing about her life and making it clear… etc etc as above. Funny how one can find similarities in the oddest pairings! And whereas she could be and often was plain sleazy, I find this one of the horniest records ever made: a hint of what it’s like in bed with Madonna without the tackiness of the film of the same name. Could do with a shower afterwards but I love it.

  53. 53
    hardtogethits on 21 Feb 2011 #

    #49, #50 – it is great to be alerted to an earlier version of the song. How I wish it was on Spotify.

    However, it is an “obvious anachronism”. I am surprised that the use of “anachronism” would be diluted as if it were a matter of opinion not fact. X cannot be the soundtrack to Y if X was not recorded before Y happened, but X can be the soundtrack to anything which occurred later than its own recording. So if X is applied to Y, it is an anachronism, and whether it works or not is a matter for value judgment.

    Now, there are people who are less bothered than I am about when records hit the charts; but still, there’s an association with “All Together Now” as a Christmas hit. Some of these people may or may not know anything about, say, football. But trust me, they are able (with thankfully little prompting) to declare that “All Together Now” must have come out after the 1990 World Cup. So, my use of the word “obvious” was opinionated but was briefly tested. I could have used a more pejorative word.

    All of which would not matter at all if, through whatever means, the anachronism functioned artistically – and whether it is ‘obvious’ or not is irrelevant. It could still work. Is it too crass to say if the audience don’t mind, it doesn’t matter? I’m not sure. However, if the audience object – even if they don’t notice the anachronism – then it certainly does matter.

    Izzy at #31 says it “ruined [it] (okay, just a teeny bit)”, without referring to the anachronism. I had already sought out the trailer for the film “One Night In Turin”, which I was more-than-ready to see, and when “All Together Now” came on the trailer I thought “Eh?” It really, really jarred. From “desperate to see” to “maybe not for me” in 80 seconds.

  54. 54
    Erithian on 21 Feb 2011 #

    But surely an anachronism can be more or less serious depending on the context? If, for instance, the Mods in “Quadrophenia” had been depicted dancing to “Israelites”, that’d be a jarring anachronism on the soundtrack. And yes I do get annoyed when events from, say, 1971 are shown in documentaries with accompanying music from 1973. But using the Farm to comment on an event which was so close in time to their record as to have been a possible influence on it (Hooton being a former Liverpool FC fanzine editor) is “applicable” to the same degree as linking footage of Apollo 11 to “Space Oddity” which came out a few months later. If it had been a drama about fans travelling to Turin and they were shown listening to the song, that indeed would have jarred, but as a soundtrack it conveys something of the atmosphere of the period.

    Incidentally, re the Gulf War: as Nick Hornby points out in “Fever Pitch”, football fans were the first people in the UK to know that the bombing of Baghdad had started, as a late-night ITV highlights package of League Cup ties was interrupted by what was the first live streaming of CNN most of us had seen, in which two CNN journalists stationed in Baghdad described what they were seeing from their hotel in a riveting commentary.

  55. 55
    Ed on 21 Feb 2011 #

    #53, #54:

    How about ‘A Knight’s Tale’, where Geoffrey Chaucer kicks off ‘We Will Rock You’?

    Or ‘Marie Antoinette’, where Versailles c1789 has the same soundtrack as a Brooklyn hipster bar c2004?

  56. 56
    enitharmon on 21 Feb 2011 #

    Erithian @ 54

    Nah! The first people in the UK to know that the Gulf War had begun in earnest were those sitting glued to the newly-opening-up internet waiting for the signal!

    It’s a bit early to mention that the morning after the shooting started I had a business appointment at Marconi Defence Systems in Portsmouth. Now that was an interesting experience. Bearing in mind that even on previous visits I was routinely escorted to the loo when I needed it. That day there was a tank in the car park…

  57. 57
    hardtogethits on 22 Feb 2011 #

    #54. I agree with your comments broadly, and perhaps even specifically . You may well be right in the specific context of the film, but if you are, the film’s not for me and it should be.

  58. 58
    Martin Skidmore on 11 Mar 2011 #

    I would like to imagine this song as a tribute to my Trident Comics output. I think the two titles I look back on with most pride are St Swithin’s Day by Grant Morrison and Paul Grist, and Mark Millar’s first ever comics work, Saviour. As a tribute, it’s not a terribly satisfactory one, but I like to think that Cliff meant well.

  59. 59
    punctum on 14 Aug 2014 #

    Given the news, I’m not so much throwing in the towel with TPL, but have removed all of the posts directly relating to albums by CR and edited all the other ones where he is mentioned. I’ll restore them depending on what happens. In the meantime I am extremely weary of the whole business and do not feel like pressing on any further – what’s the point spending time and effort listening to, researching and writing about somebody who might turn out to be dodgy (note my very careful wording there)? I think I have better things to do, and listen to, and write about.

  60. 60
    Mark G on 15 Aug 2014 #

    The BBC4 TOTP repeats are on hiatus at the moment because of the Proms. I can imagine a situation where the repeats become untenable …

  61. 61
    !!! on 16 Aug 2014 #

    Especially considering he was at Number One in the last episode and will be in the next one.

  62. 62
    Kinitawowi on 16 Aug 2014 #

    Well, let’s wait until there’s a formal announcement and an investigation of and conviction for a crime before we jump to labelling people unobservable sex offenders, eh?

    Or not. Because Britain.

  63. 63
    Mark G on 16 Aug 2014 #

    Yes. But DLT can’t be seen while his case is being investigated, so this seems to fall into the same halfway house.

  64. 64
    Lazarus on 17 Aug 2014 #

    Does the embargo apply to performers though? Gary Glitter and Jonathan King have both been featured on these reruns.

  65. 65
    Mark G on 18 Aug 2014 #

    I don’t think JKing has been on, his “It only takes a minute” was ‘avoided’ in an edit, but the BBC apologised and lifted his embargo, but he’s not due to be on the show for a good while yet.

    Then again, he became a regular ‘slot’ at one point, I suspect the BBC will avoid it due to some copyright reason or other

  66. 66
    punctum on 18 Aug 2014 #

    He was on in the 1978 reruns performing “One For You, One For Me.” Different rules about presenters and performers IIRC.

  67. 67
    Mark G on 18 Aug 2014 #

    You are right, and I have just found my review of the show on the Popular ’78 thread. How soon we forget! (Well, I do anyway)

    .. Dan Hartman was a member of the Edgar Broughton Band, according to me. What a burke. Edgar Winter Band. Someone edit that in for me? Ah, thanks…

  68. 68
    Paulito on 19 Aug 2014 #

    @64 But was that before the post-Savile panic set in at the Beeb?

  69. 69
    Mark G on 19 Aug 2014 #

    No, those were from last year.

  70. 70
    wichitalineman on 19 Aug 2014 #

    Cliff’s On The Beach was played on Pick Of The Pops on Saturday. Maybe it was part of their “aggressive newsgathering”: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/aug/18/bbc-cliff-richard-raid-coverage-south-yorkshire

  71. 71
    Cumbrian on 19 Aug 2014 #

    Cliff Richard’s “I Still Believe In You” also currently the #1 track in digital music on Amazon.co.uk

  72. 72
    Mark G on 20 Aug 2014 #

    That seems like a campaign by cliff fans, so watch this weekend’s chart I guess.

  73. 73
    weej on 20 Aug 2014 #

    If you’re going to have a fan campaign to get to #1 it helps to have fans as determined as Cliff does – http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/cliff-richard-fans-bid-to-get-i-still-believe-in-you-to-number-one-in-wake-of-sex-abuse-claim-9675365.html

  74. 74
    Cumbrian on 20 Aug 2014 #

    Currently at 43 in the midweeks. Might make the Top 40, maybe even higher than that (Top 30? Top 20?) but I can’t see this being a song darkening Tom’s door in the fullness of time.

  75. 75
    punctum on 21 Aug 2014 #

    Been thinking a lot about this over the past week, and I have elected to republish all of the CR posts on TPL and keep them up there until or unless anything happens. Then – and only then – will I make a final decision. It’s the only sane course of action right now.

  76. 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.

  77. 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.

  78. 78
    Lonepilgrim on 24 Aug 2014 #

    He moves in mysterious ways

  79. 79
    Lazarus on 24 Aug 2014 #

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

  80. 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…

  81. 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.

  82. 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.

  83. 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

  84. 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?

  85. 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!)

  86. 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.

  87. 87
    benson_79 on 14 Nov 2020 #

    Of course, following the live raid debacle the Beeb has performed a total reverse ferret as regards Cliff – Radio 2 play his records frequently and generally treat him with undeserved obsequiousness.

  88. 88
    Gareth Parker on 27 May 2021 #

    Tom’s 4/10 seems about right to me.

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