Cliff Richard & the Shadows

Me and My Shadows

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Cliff Richard's third long-player and second studio album features him and the Shadows in a series of nicely played and beautifully recorded but mostly relatively undistinguished songs, nine of which were authored by the current Shadows membership or founding member Ian Samwell. With the exception of "I Don't Know," the latter's work tends toward Elvis Presley-style rockers (no surprise from the author of "Move It"), while the songs written by Hank Marvin, Jet Harris, and Bruce Welch are more lyrical. The best song here is "Evergreen Tree," a Ricky Nelson-style ballad, very much reminiscent of "Traveling Man," co-authored by Aaron Schroeder and Wally Gold, on which the Shadows abandon their electric instruments for an all-acoustic spot -- a couple more songs like that and this album would have been a smash, and it's not like there isn't some good stuff scattered throughout. The Hank Marvin-Jet Harris-authored "She's Gone" is an unexpectedly strong piece of bluesy rock, at least musically, though the overly complex lyrics leave a little to be desired, and also shows the band trying for (and largely capturing) a sound similar to that on Presley's second album. Richard and company were also clearly trying for a softer sound on this LP, even brushing up against doo wop music in the intro of the beautiful ballad "Tell Me." The appeal of much of the material here is limited, however, as most of it is highly derivative of better American models -- even the hard-rocking "Choppin' 'N' Changin'" is pretty formulaic, albeit well played and loud, and "Gee Whiz It's You" is a valiant if somewhat failed attempt at capturing an American sound. "Working After School" would have been better off as a doo wop number, though Marvin's guitar does compensate for the absence of some vocal flourishes. The 1998 CD reissue includes both the mono and stereo mixes, of which the former are preferable for casual listening, while the latter will please those fans who want to hear how Hank Marvin and others played certain parts on each song.

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