The first of five CDs issued in the U.K. to mark the 40th anniversary of Cliff Richard's first hit single ("Move It," in 1958), 40th Anniversary, Vol. 1 covers the period during which Richard established himself first, as the most convincing rock & roller the country had yet produced -- and then as its most beloved "family entertainer." As early as "Living Doll," his sixth hit (and first chart-topper), it was clear that Richard was willing to leave the more boisterous rock behind him and broaden his appeal beyond his early teenaged base. What is, perhaps, remarkable is the ease with which he accomplished that; audiences are, after all, traditionally suspicious of artists who can so easily be coaxed off the bandwagon they built, with both Lonnie Donegan and Tommy Steele already suffering the consequences of their defections. Richard, however, took to the new genres with ease and, not only did his audience swell accordingly, but he also managed to retain a lot of the kids who'd supported him in his earlier guise. Wrapping up with the Christmas 1961 hit "The Girl in Your Arms," Vol. 1 is an excellent portrait of this evolution and, though the same story has been told in even greater depth elsewhere (the Rock 'n Roll Years and Singles Collection box sets), it's still difficult to argue with any of the selections here.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson