Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Homage to the Killer: Cliff Richard and The Shadows: "It'll Be Me"

There is (by this time) something of a tradition building in the UK pop culture of UK artists covering songs by US artists who but for reasons of, oh, extreme notoriety the US artist can't tour the UK, and so hey presto, there's a UK hit from nowhere, seemingly, and thus I only get to mention the last man standing (as of mid-March 2011), aka Jerry Lee Lewis. Yes, nice clean-cut young men do well from a man who does, so to speak, not so well; this looks dubious at first but the song more than stands up as, amazingly, an engaging and warm thumbs-up tribute to the Killer himself. (Lewis had a hit in the charts at this time with the perhaps-not-too-well-thought-out "Sweet Little Sixteen.") Richard and the Shadows sound as if they are digging into a good square meal, Richard in particular getting extra satisfaction by doing his best Lewis impersonation/homage and the song itself is a joy, the man searching for the woman in her sugar bowl, on her fishing hook, on Mars - there is not a hint of desperation or stalkerishness about him, he is just a big friendly guy who wants a certain girl's attention. Considering the hapless passivity of Cliff's last appearance here, it is good to hear him up and happy again (as he almost always is with the Shadows) and giving Lewis his due when the man needed a few friends. (Though I am sure he would have preferred to have the hit himself - it was, however, the b-side to "Great Balls of Fire" so that wasn't to be.)

I should also note that it was - once again, fact fans - Elvis who kept Cliff and the Shadows from getting to number one; also that by the time I get back to Cliff, things in pop will be very different - the scene he plays a part in now, where singers sing and songwriters write and only here and there do they overlap (hello, Brill Building) will not be long for this world; the UK covers of US hits will alas continue, but as the Cuban Missile Crisis begins, another crisis also takes hold - one that crops up on a near solar spots-basis in pop - what happens when the charts get stale? What is the point where things change? They are about to change with the next entry, one that comes from the most unlikely of singers, and it goes on from there.

No comments: