There is a time, perhaps, in everyone's life where they are "hip", "now", "with it", "mod", "happening" and every other trans-generational word for someone who typifies the moment.
1965 was Cilla's year.
Swinging London was in full swing and even this girl from Liverpool could cash in. She was riding on a high with a number of hit singles ("Anyone Who Had a Heart" and "You're My World" both 1964 and both #1 in England), had an association with the hip Beatles, both as friends (from Liverpool days), and professionally (they shared the same label, producer, George Martin and manager, Brian Epstein) , wore great 60s skirts, and mixed with all the pop celebrities of the time, totally unexpected for a hat check girl from Liverpool.
From here there was a steady decline (?) whilst her husband manager made her the all round entertainer: movies, television, situational comedy, cabarets, variety specials and support for Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party.
Wikipedia: "Priscilla White was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, on 27 May 1943 and grew up in the Scotland Road area of the city. Her parents were John Patrick White and Priscilla Blythen. Her grandfather, Joseph Henry Blythen, was from Wales but most of her family were from a Liverpool Irish background.
She attended St. Anthony's School, which was behind St. Anthony's Church in Scotland Road, and Anfield Commercial College.
Determined to become an entertainer, she got a part-time job as a cloakroom attendant at Liverpool's Cavern Club, best known for its association with the Beatles. Her impromptu performances impressed the Beatles and others. She was encouraged to start singing by a Liverpool promoter, Sam Leach, who gave her her first gig at the Casanova Club, where she appeared as "Swinging Cilla". She became a guest singer with the Merseybeat bands Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes and, later, with the Big Three. She was also, in the meantime, a waitress at The Zodiac coffee lounge, where she was to meet her future husband Bobby Willis. She was featured in an article in the first edition of the local music newspaper Mersey Beat; the paper's publisher, Bill Harry, mistakenly referred to her as Cilla Black, rather than White, and she decided she liked the name, and took it as a stage name".
She then hooked up with Brian Epstein and George Martin.
Following those successful singles there was a lot riding on this, Cilla's first album. She had proven she could sing and could interpret a lyric and make it her own but, the mid 60s were awash with equally capable English female singers: Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield, Sandie Shaw, Lulu, and Helen Shapiro.
Cilla needed to show she could sell albums and distinguish herself vocally … she fell somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between Dusty's soulfulness on one side and Petula's pop balladry on the other.
All of those girls relied on (to varying degrees) interpretations of contemporary pop song hits, mainly on songs from the US (in those earlier days of international communications you could rush out your version of a US hit in your market before the US record got over there). They would throw in a few "oldies", usually oldies that had already been recently revived by someone else, and then, maybe throw in a few songs written for them.
Petula was perhaps the exception to this, having written some of her own material but otherwise they all followed similar patters.
Cilla's ace in the hole though is George Martin.
Martin was a record producer, arranger, composer, conductor, audio engineer and musician who never looked down on any form of music and was adept at classical, pop, novelty, jazz, stage and rock n roll.
And on this album, knowing that Martin could do all that, Cilla hedges her bets and picks songs in a variety if styles. You could rephrase that to, on this album Cilla's diverse vocal range is highlighted through an array of jazz, power ballads, pop, and soul standards.
She sings well and Martin keeps all the seemingly disparate styles under the general banner of pop. How much of this you can listen to depends on you tolerance for English mid-60s female vocalists.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Goin' Out of My Head – (Teddy Randazzo, Robert Weinstein) – Covered by everyone but originally recorded Little Anthony & the Imperials in 1964 (#6 US)whom performer Randazzo wrote it for. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goin%27_Out_of_My_Head. This is a really good version by Cilla.
- Every Little Bit Hurts – (Ed Cobb) – "Every Little Bit Hurts" was originally a 1964 hit single for Motown soul singer Brenda Holloway (#13 US). Again, a well covered tune. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Every_Little_Bit_Hurts
- Baby It's You – (Burt Bacharach, Mack David, Barney Williams) – It was recorded by the Shirelles (#3, 1961) and many others. The highest-charting version of "Baby It's You" was by the band Smith, who took the song to #5 on the US charts in 1969. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_It's_You. Another good version.
- Dancing in the Street – (Ivy Jo Hunter, William Stevenson, Marvin Gaye) – Originally done by Martha and the Vandellas (#2US, 1964) and then covered everywhere from the lame to the good. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dancing_in_the_street. This is a big sound, no longer soul, from Cilla and George and it works.
- Come to Me – (George Martin, Bobby Willis) – an original written by producer Martin and Cilla’s husband, Willis. A nice power ballad that sounds like something out of a film from the same time.
- Ol' Man River – (Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II) – Done by everyone- immortalised by Paul Robeson (1936), but Judy Garland, one of the few female singers to attempt the song, sang a powerful rendition on her television show in 1963, followed by a studio recording. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ol'_Man_River. Nope, it doesnt work
- One Little Voice – (Uno Di Voi) – (Coppola, Isola, Shaper) – First version was in Italian by by Gigliola Cinquetti (1964) . The first English version was this by Cilla. Very dramatic and quite good.
- I'm Not Alone Anymore – (Clive Westlake, Kenny Lynch) – first recorded by Cilla written by a pair of English writers.
- Whatcha Gonna Do 'Bout It – (Doris Troy, Gregory Carroll) – What'cha Gonna Do About It is a 1964 song by American Doris Troy. It made #37 on the UK Singles Chart in 1964. The Hollies did a British Invasion cover version of this for their debut album Stay with The Hollies from early 1964 (recorded in 1963). Cilla is covering the Hollies here.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What'cha_Gonna_Do_About_It
- Love Letters – (Edward Heyman, Victor Young) – Love Letters" is a 1945 popular song with music by Victor Young and lyrics by Edward Heyman. The song appeared, without lyrics, in the movie of the same name, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song for 1945. The song has been performed many times, but the best-known versions were made by: Dick Haymes (in 1945, US #11) needed and Elvis Presley (in 1966, US #19, UK #6). cilla inspiration 0 anyone The Marvelettes (1962), Shelley Fabares (1962), Ketty Lester (#5, 1962), Patti Page (1963), Cliff Richard with The Norrie Paramor Orchestra (1963), Ike & Tina Turner (1963), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Letters_(song). A great ballad.
- This Empty Place – (Hal David, Burt Bacharach) – First release by Dionne Warwick (#84 Pop, #26 R&B1963). The Searchers did it in April 1964. Frantic and captures youthful yearning quite well.
- You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To – (Cole Porter) – covered by everyone. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You'd_Be_So_Nice_to_Come_Home_To. Cilla does a jazz standard and belts it out but then the music behind her is belting also.
A few great tracks, some filler and a few that don't work …. I'm taping a couple and selling.
Surprisingly there where no hit singles.
Baby It's You
This Empty Place
You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To
English sleeve below (Australian sleeve at start)