Cliff Richard

Private Collection: His Personal Best 1979-1988

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The prototype for the later Cliff Richard Collection U.S. release, Private Collection is, in fact, a dramatically public one, compiling 24 of Cliff Richard's 31 British chart entries spanning the decade 1979-1988. Chronologically, "Green Light" and the monster "We Don't Talk Anymore" open the show; the festive "Mistletoe and Wine" closes it, and in between times, Richard's journey through some distinctly Elton John/Billy Joel-shaped territory finds him alternately unleashing some startlingly memorable material, and some surprisingly lackluster muck -- just like Elton and Billy, in fact. From 1981, the awful "Daddy's Home" would not have been out of place flapping around his late '60s dog days; from 1980, "Carrie" stands proudly among his finest ever performances. Sadly, if not unexpectedly, there is no room for the revision of "The Young Ones" recorded with the TV comedy team of the same name -- that performance, incidentally, brought him his first number one of the 1980s. However, duets with Phil Everly, Olivia Newton-John, Sarah Brightman, and Elton John, and a tremendous version of Buddy Holly's "True Love Ways," recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, offer more than enough variety, while Richard's own practiced ability to swing from ballads to rockers ensures that even when the sometimes-contemporary production techniques fail, his own contributions are faultless. Compared to the Greatest Hits/Best Of compilations which littered the 1960s and early '70s, Private Collection falls somewhat short of the mark -- too many omissions, too few surprises. As an easy entry into a tumultuously successful fourth decade in show business, however, it hits the spot with unerring accuracy.

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