Cliff Richard

When in Rome

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Recorded, oddly, in Lisbon, Portugal, When in Rome was originally cut for Cliff Richard's Italian audience, with the U.K. Top Ten success of the earlier When in Spain ensuring a simultaneous domestic release for this set. Lightning, however, was not going to strike twice. When in Rome became the artist's first ever non-charting album and not, perhaps, without reason. Brutally, Richard's grasp on Italian is non-existent. He sings utterly soullessly, devoid of emotion, feeling, or even the vaguest hint of understanding -- all the factors, in fact, which would make anyone want to buy one of his records in the first place. His assault on "Arriverderci Roma" is laughable, his "Volare" is embarrassing, but it is "Dicitencello Vuie" which best summarizes his predicament. Half the song is performed in Italian, half in English, and you can almost feel Richard's relief as he slides out of one into the other. Most of the performances were recorded specifically for this release; several, however, took earlier backing tracks and grafted translations into place, and here, too, the misguided nature of the project rings loud. Unless, of course, you really need to endure heinously parrot-fashioned revisions of "House Without Windows" and "Don't Talk to Him." There are worse Italian language performances out there by this artist, although -- mercifully -- "The Day I Met Maria" and "On the Beach" would remain unreleased outside of Italy until 1997 brought Bear Family's On the Continent box set. There, too, When in Roma can be experienced in its entirety. One does not, however, recommend it.

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