Cliff Richard

Sings the Standards

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Listening to Sings the Standards, it's hard to imagine that Cliff Richard was ever considered an Elvis-styled rebel. After the success of 1959's Cliff Sings, more and more ballads geared toward an easygoing audience started to appear. With 40 albums released during the '60s, they had to padded with filler, usually less than inspired readings of well-recognized songs with overly dramatic backing. Quite a bit of it ends up here, stripped of rock & roll and with orchestras taking the place of the Shadows. This doesn't mean there's not some fun to be had. "Fly Me to the Moon" goes from a schmaltzy bossa nova into a Tom Jones-styled robust swing session. "Save the Last Dance for Me" has a smooth hip sway about it and the robotic female background vocals turn the camp way up. "Blowin' in the Wind" is just plain wild with the sensibilities of Bob Dylan, Johnnie Ray, Herb Alpert, and Mitch Miller all coming together at once. Amidst all the absurd and fantastic moments are a few honest ones with genuine drama sneaking in. Richard takes "Unchained Melody" a bit slower than anyone else and the flutter and echo on the guitar is quite intriguing. The simple and sparse version of "Amazing Grace" tacked on the end is well done and rather moving. Sings the Standards is at least of interest to dramatic production fetishists, campy pop fans, and those who miss using "gear" as an adjective.

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