Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Best of Cilla Black - Cilla Black

The Best of Cilla Black
Cilla Black
Parlophone  PCS 7065

I'm a fan of female English pop singers of the 1960s but my taste runs more toward rock and soul oriented singers like Dusty Springfield and Billie Davis.  My interest in Cilla Black is largely driven by her connection to the Beatles.  A fellow Liverpudlian, she was part of the Merseybeat music scene and was managed by the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein.  She recorded for the same record label as the Fabs and was produced by George Martin.  She recorded several Lennon/McCartney songs that the Beatles never released, three of which are on this album.  None of these songs sound anything like Beatles songs.  Her first single from 1963, "Love of the Loved" came from the Beatles.  The Beatles never recorded it for a record but you can hear their version on the bootlegs of the Decca audition tapes.  It reminds me of the cabaret-type songs that McCartney liked to do, such as "Besame Mucho."  Black's version is much better than the Beatles version, George Martin gives it an elaborate big band arrangement and it swings quite nicely.  "Step Inside Love" was written for Black's television show by McCartney.  It is just about impossible to imagine the 1968 Beatles recording the song, but there is a goofy informal performance of it by them on "Anthology 3."  It is my favorite of Black's Beatles' songs, particularly the soulful chorus.  "It's For You" is another McCartney song that I don't believe the Beatles ever recorded.  It has a nice arrangement from George Martin and it was a U. K. hit for Black.  She also covered "Yesterday" but doesn't really bring anything new to it.  Black had success with Burt Bacharach/Hal David songs as well.  Her 1964 recording of "Anyone Who Had a Heart" was a giant hit in England.  She also had a big hit in the U. K. with "Alfie" which Bacharach arranged for her.  I'm not a big fan of the song, but her performance of it is quite dramatic.  Her gift for dramatic vocals is also evident in her soaring vocals for "What Good Am I," "Where is Tomorrow?" and especially "You're My World" which was her only hit in the United States.  Black was a talented singer, but she gravitated towards "easy listening" mainstream pop performances, however her cover of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" is soulful and suggests that she might have been able to follow Dusty Springfield into more rhthym and blues type material if she hadn't chosen to go the cabaret route.  "Sing A Rainbow" also follows a different direction than most of her songs.  It is a gentle, almost twee performance that reminds me of Mary Hopkin or the early Marianne Faithfull.  I don't think it is really a style that suits her though, it wastes that giant voice of hers.  This record is a little too middle of the road to be completely satisfying to me, but I enjoy most of it.  Recommended for fans of Sandie Shaw and Petula Clark.

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