Cliff Richard

Now You See Me... Now You Don't

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Knocked out in under two weeks, at a time when other artists of Cliff Richard's stature were taking that long to tune the synthesizers, Now You See Me...Now You Don't is an anomaly within his late-'70s/early-'80s catalog, an album that really doesn't seem to know why it was made. The playing is as terrific as you'd expect from a band that includes Dave Mattacks, Mo Foster, Peter Skellern, and Mel Collins (among others), and the speed with which it was recorded adds a welcome spontaneity to the proceedings. But the material just didn't match up to the quality that had felt so assured on the last few albums, and it was almost ironic to discover that, at the same time all concerned were laying down this weedy hodgepodge, they were also cutting a bunch of inspirational numbers ("You, Me and Jesus," "Love and a Helping Hand," and "Little Town" among them) that boasted all the strength and ingenuity that the album was lacking. Now You See Me is not entirely a lost cause. The singles "The Only Way Out" and "Where Do We Go from Here" were solidly enjoyable, and other moments at least tried to rise to the occasion. It's just that people expected more from Cliff Richard than this, and they deserved a lot more as well.

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