Released in 2003, Rockspell was Cliff Richard's first full-on religious disc since Small Corners, a collection of his best-known gospel rockers that drew its title from a term Richard coined in the mid-'80s to encapsulate his own brand of Christian rock. Back then, he performed a dozen songs for the BBC's cameras, on a show that was likewise titled Rockspell; the album repeats some of those selections, but it is not (sadly) the original soundtrack to the show. Richard's core audience largely remains ambivalent about his religious recordings. The singer's own sincerity and determination are, of course, admired, and several of the songs do stray into the average listener's "best-of" collection -- "From a Distance," which of course titled (and helped highlight) Richard's 1989 Wembley extravaganza, is a case in point. "Every Face Tells a Story" and "Fighter/Thief in the Night" are likewise excellent contributions to the canon. It should also be pointed out that, though Richard's conviction shines through every song, he rarely allows his lyrics to pontificate (on the one hand) or flap fatuously in the breeze (on the other). Indeed, Rockspell has a rocking edge that rivals any of his better-known albums. Nevertheless, fans (and sales figures) effortlessly line it up alongside those other sacred collections that Richard has released over the years, and Rockspell remains recommended only to listeners who absolutely have to experience every album he has ever made.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson