Cliff Richard

Cliff Live in Japan 72

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Recorded in Tokyo in September 1972, this 28-track, two-LP package was largely overlooked in the U.K. and Europe; 1972 was not, after all, a vintage year for Cliff Richard -- in fact, the 1970s as a whole had been less than kind to the lad, as he continued to wallow in a lightweight pop vein that was ultimately as worthless as it was directionless. The handful of newer songs that make it into the set -- "Sunny Honey Girl," "Silvery Rain" and "Flying Machine" -- are so unexceptional that even Richard sounds dispirited singing them, and it's not until the late-set eruption through a host of golden oldies that this album picks up speed. Not that we really need more live versions of "Living Doll," "Bachelor Boy," and "The Young Ones," but they're here if anyone does. Sadly, the show quickly returns to the middle of the road, which is why EMI's decision to include it among the souvenirs of Cliff's 50th anniversary celebrations was marked by the original package being somewhat sliced up. So we lose the contributions of Olivia Newton-John that rounded out the original Japanese vinyl, and end instead with Cliff's own finale, a rock & roll medley and a punchy "Sing a Song of Freedom." Again, not one of his better songs, but at least it rocks a little.