Cliff goes Macca

Cliff_high So, after discovering that not even Wogan will play his records ,Cliff Richard has threatened to give up making albums. Cue a minute’s silence at the Dorchester branch of the Women’s Institute and a catastrophic decline in sales of shiny shell suits. Well it’ll be a shame if he does concentrate on the tennis career as hidden away in Cliff’s large back catalogue is a gem or two like the soundtrack of the 1973 movie Take Me High.

The film’s plot is fairly predictable; Cliff and his gang of young hoodlums stalk Hell’s Kitchen in downtown Manhattan desperately searching for hallucinogenic drugs. Well, sadly no, Take Me High revolves around our Cliff, his female accomplice Deborah Watling, and a host of British character actors like Richard Wattis and George Cole messing around in canal boats in Birmingham. There’s also an intriguing sub-plot that involves trying to open a burger joint.

The movie is, as you’ve probably surmised, entertaining in an ‘I can’t believe Britain was ever like that kind of way.’ The soundtrack however is a different matter. Squeezed in between the Cliffster’s superb 50s and 60s rock and roll tunes and his late 70s artistic renaissance of Rock and Roll Juvenile and Wired for Sound – they’re both great albums honest – Take Me High finds Harry Webb firmly ensconced in Macca-land. Judging by the assembled tracks Cliff, or maybe his team of songwriters, had certainly cocked an ear or two the early McCartney solo albums and the Wings debut Red Rose Speedway.

The corking title track is exhibit A, all floaty Beach Boys vocals and keyboards in the verse that make way for a soaring Step Inside Love style chorus underpinned by some very neat Macca-esque bass. Also rather special is The Game, a tender ballad that recalls some of Cliff’s finer mid sixties pop, and It’s Only Money, a romping Beatley pop song with a Hank-tastic (presume it was him) guitar solo. Oddest of all though is The Anti Brotherhood of Man, which, alas, isn’t Cliff’s personal rant at the future Eurovision song contest winners. Rather it is a weirdly sinister piece of pop accompanied by odd choral effects that combine to sound in equal parts 60s psychedelia and Lloyd Webber music theatre. Very strange.

The recent CD reissue also has a few good bonus tracks, notably I’ll Love You Forever Today which boasts some neat pizzicato strings, or maybe it’s a harp? and some very Penny Lane style piccolo. Alas the compilers forgot to add Power To all our Friends, Cliff’s stomping paen to worldwide revolutionaries, cunningly disguised as a Eurovision song contest entry. Take Me High confirms what you knew all along. The Young Ones’ Rick was right – Cliff will always be cool.

Cliff Richard – Take Me High (EMI) 1973

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2 Responses to “Cliff goes Macca”

  1. Grant Says:

    Nice to see an appraisal of one of the best mid period Cliff albums, even though I suspect the reviewer’s tongue is firmly in his cheek.

    It would be good to see you covering some Leo Sayer and Gilbert O’Sullivan, both of whom were superb songwriters whose albums have been overlooked for decades.

    FYI Cliff stopped wearing shell suits years ago and the Dorcheter WI are all Westlife fans.

  2. Jim Says:

    I agree, surely some of Leo and Gilberts finest works will soon be finding their way onto this excellent site…. along with the must have masterpieces from Kevin Peak, and Peters and Lee… Don’t worry, I’m here all week !

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