Cliff Richard

Cliff Richard [Sounds Superb]

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A three-LP Belgian concoction, Cliff Richard is essentially a box set reissue of three albums missing from many collections: 1965's Love Is Forever, a slightly revised version of the same year's Cliff Richard album, and -- completely out of place, but welcome regardless -- a single-LP distillation of Richard and the Shadows' 1972 Live in Japan double-album package. Released in Japan only, Live in Japan highlights a typically professional, characteristically energetic greatest-hits collection. Of course, all the biggies are here, but it's the lesser-known efforts which rank as the true standouts -- late-'60s singles "Living in Harmony," "Sing a Song of Freedom," and an effortlessly superb "Early in the Morning." There's also a ten-minute rock & roll medley to get everyone up on their feet at the end. The recreation of the Cliff Richard album sheds "Angel" and "Kiss" in favor of the lovely (if later) "All My Love," a 1967 U.K. hit; the final disc, reiterating Love Is Forever, serves that set up in its entirety. The fact that it still represents the nadir of Cliff's 1960s output, of course, apparently escaped the compiler's attention. All in all, it's an odd collection, and the absence of even lightly detailed liners must surely have persuaded a few people that disc one, at least, was going to serve up a greatest-hits album. In fact, they wound up with one of the best live recordings of Cliff Richard's entire career, a bonus which alone is worth the (budget) price of admission.