Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cliff Richard - Just About As Good As It Gets
Smith & Co

Ok so in this instance the series' title is oxymoronic enough to stump the most erudite Oxford professor / philosopher but if ever there were a case for Lemmy's maxim of there's two types of music good and shit then here is one. Leavin' aside the never-too-snide snipes at the self-sanctifying unctuous git and the shadow cast by his egregiousness smugacity he really was the UK's contender for Rock-crown with dad of Kim so thankin' ye kindly Marty Wilde. As comical the gulf between he and Elvis that surpassed every ocean is now (it's still shudderingly queasyical to recall the sight of him casting himself as some kind of anti-establishment hero stood side by sideburn with Elvis in rocks early days in a documentary several years ago), I'm sure these were taken as the neutered slop they are by any rocker worth their proverbial salt n' oats right back then (my Mam, for one, has always detested him. Vehemently. With added vexacious paroxysms of vitriol. Obviously I've put such possible pre-natal influence quietly aside here). These late fifties early recordings, alas, for all the surly impressionisms, are still quaintly polite English renditions of the wild-cat rockin from Elvis n' Eddie and the ilkley like that can't be bartered with as emasculated saccharine suffocates any ferocity from Twenty Flight Rock, Mean Woman Blues and a caustic-less cabaret of Blue Suede Shoes along with unsurprisingly unspectacularly stale lunges at Jerry Lee staples High School Confidential and Great Balls Of Fire. Likewise I'm Walkin' and I Gotta Know are reduced to just pleasant picnic cream-cake eating at Butlins, the sheer joy is largely missing, or any real hurt or hardship that'd make Billy Fury so beloved. It's so hard to separate the career-horse he was about to become and thence remained from any to assess the practised pouting on paltry pickings like with honourable objectivity, but Disc Two demonstrates some swivelsome hip n' lip curling n' curving you and your Auntie and Uncle Naysayer may get all Spock-eyed about on versions of My Babe (a personal rave, cats, so I'm really being, um, charitable here, Christian, even), I Got A Feeling, Ready Teddy, Too Much (unless it was the cocoa and marmite) and perhaps, appropriately, Don't Bug Me Baby, which shows some real attitude at last. Though The Stones reappraising Chuck n' co it ain't, though perhaps it riled Keith enough to spur the polar opposite in the namesake stakes onwards. Everyone with an ear bent on rockin will appreciate the sterling early reverb-laden lollops of chirpy riffolata cha-cha from Hank B Marvin, especially the western-themed instrumentals Driftin' and Jet Black. However, as with all UK rockin' it's remains a curio and largely irrelevant apart from Move It, lacking fire, sparkle and vim overall. Thus still one for the racier Chris De Burgh acolyte.
Stu Gibson

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