Cliff Richard

Tracks 'n Grooves

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Less a new Cliff Richard album than an opportunity to spring-clean the archive, 1970's Tracks 'n Grooves rounded up recordings that dated back over three years -- the oldest number ("I'll Make It Up to You") was cut in April 1967 and the most recent ("Abraham, Martin and John," "Your Heart's Not in Your Love," and "Are You Only Fooling Me") were recorded in September 1969. The resultant collection, then, necessarily feels something akin to a compilation album, as Richard's style and delivery continued the evolution that marked (and in some ways scarred) his late-'60s output -- on the one hand, he could still kick out and rock when he wanted to, but more often he was content with simply drifting through whichever ballads had most recently caught his attention. Some sterling performances do rise above the horizon -- "Early in the Morning" opens the set with gloriously buoyant aplomb, while "The Girl Can't Help It" turns the clock back a decade to the days when Richard was Britain's premier rock & roller. But there is also a lamentable stab at Sonny Bono's "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" and, elsewhere, Tracks 'n Grooves wallows in the pit of easy listening that had already condemned Richard to the state of irrelevance that would haunt him for the next five years.

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