2LP on 1CD (Stereo)
## 1 - 12 "When In Spain" 1963 Columbia (2.5*)
Through the first half of the 1960s, Cliff Richard was recording at a furious rate, turning out material not only for a seemingly endless stream of new U.K. singles, EPs, albums, and soundtracks, but also for the foreign markets where his appeal was strongest. What makes this last category especially appealing is that he actually sang in the language in question - Germany, Spain, France, and Italy were all granted a number of exclusive recordings, with the first-named earning the equivalent of six full albums worth of material between 1960-74. This vast corpus has since been compiled onto the Bear Family box set On the Continent; less well-documented is the fact that a number of these recordings were also made available in the U.K. History, after all, insists that prior to the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper, artist's albums were essentially little more than random collections of songs. But Richard and producer Norrie Paramor had been scheming thematic - i.e. conceptual - albums since 1963, beginning with When in Spain. Recorded in Barcelona, When in Spain became Richard's seventh album (soundtracks and compilations notwithstanding) in late 1963, at a time when Merseybeat was ensuring that his domination of the U.K. pop charts was undergoing its most serious challenge yet. The fact that he did not rise to the challenge, however, only amplifies his untouchability. As far back as his second album, 1959's Cliff Sings, he had stated his intentions to rise above simple rock & roll; by the time of this album, he was ready to transcend pop altogether. Overlook the fact that the track listing is very much a beginner's guide to the genre, the kind of thing which turns up on TV-advertised Latin Lovers Greatest Hits-type albums, and it is a beautiful album. "Perfidia," with the Shadows in full flight behind him, an insistently percussive "Frenesi," and the flirtatious "Maria No Mas," all draw out some of his most majestic vocals, while the moments where he slips - a gently drifting, and clearly hesitant "Vaya Con Dios" - themselves possess a convincing fragility which only amplifies the album's overall appeal. The same can be said for Richard's occasionally suspect pronunciation, and the nagging suspicion that he might not be fully aware of what he's singing about. Several songs from this album would be reprised with English lyrics on the artist's next album, 1965's eponymous set. But it's a mark of When in Spain's naпve strengths that neither "Sway" nor "Kiss," "Magic Is the Moonlight" nor "Perfidia," could ever improve on their Spanish language siblings. Of course, line this album up against the originals of the songs it features and Richard's grand illusion promptly crumbles. He was banking, however, on the fact that nobody would ever need to do that - and you know what? He was right.
- Dave Thompson (All Music Guide)
## 13 - 24 "Kinda Latin" 1966 EMI-Columbia (4*)
The logical successor to the Spanish and Italian language albums which he had unleashed over the previous 12 months, Cliff Richard's 11th album eschewed the linguistic gymnastics which marred those collections, and concentrated on the moods alone - with stunning results. Handed a foreign language lyric sheet, he gives it his best, but rarely comes out on top. Left to his own English language devices, however, Richard's natural vocal powers can scarcely be faulted - even the most practiced rehearsal can sound like an ad lib, and it doesn't matter how many times you catch that chuckle at the end of "Blame It on the Bossa Nova," it still seems as natural as breathing. It's a terrific album, and no mistake. Of the three orchestras recruited to the cause, only one had proven ability at re-creating even a halfway authentic Latin beat. Bernard Ebbinghouse and company had been providing similar accompaniment for Richard as far back as 1961's Listen to Cliff, and their re-creation of "The Girl From Ipanema" wraps itself around a genuinely excited vocal to create a minor masterpiece. Equally fetching is the low-key shuffle which drifts behind "Quiet Night of Quiet Stars" and a positively tenderized "Our Day Will Come." Yet they are not the only stars of the show. Both Les Reed and Reg Guest acquit themselves with similar grace, even if Reed is also responsible for the album's one genuinely ghastly error, a ham-fisted rearrangement of Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind" which brings that song's inclusion even deeper into question that it originally was. But one cannot help but admire the same orchestra's plucky assault on "Concrete and Clay" - so plucky, in fact, that the horn parts seem convinced that they're auditioning for Herb Alpert, while the organ is dreaming of a job with Brian Auger. A mesmerizing mйlange. Having got it wrong once in the past, Cliff has another go at "Fly Me to the Moon," and, this time, he nails it - exuberant, excitable, everything, in fact, that the Love Is Forever version wasn't. "Quando Quando Quando" is even better; play it alongside the Cure's "Hot Hot" and you know precisely where Robert Smith got one of his best ideas from. Plus, that little growl right before the instrumental break is one of the sexiest noises Richars had made in years! It's fashionable to write off this artist's entire mid- to late-1960s output as the lost flailing of a pop star on the ropes - and some of it does fit that billing. Kinda Latin, however, isn't simply the exception to prove the rule. It is one of the most enjoyable - not to mention audacious - albums in his entire catalog. And if it's this much fun to listen to, imagine what it must have been like recording the thing. Quando!
- Dave Thompson (All Music Guide)