Cilla Black Beginnings Review

Compilation. Released 2003.  

BBC Review

She succeeded, like she has always succeeded, just by being herself.

Adam Smith 2003

We all know she's a national treasure; we're on first-name terms with our Cilla after all. We've shared a lorra lorra laughs and a lorra lorra tears. From cloakroom attendant at The Cavern to hostess of a thousand Blind Dates, she remains one of our best-loved entertainers.

Yet, in a career dominated by television, it's easy to forget Cilla was once a singer, and a very successful singer at that. Managed by Brian Epstein and produced by George Martin she was Liverpool's second biggest export after The Beatles.

And now, after dramatically leaving Blind Date, it is to music that Cilla returns. Her new album - cunningly entitled Beginnings combines her 60s hits with new recordings and the odd reworking.

The 60s stuff should all be familiar. "Anyone Who Had A Heart" and "You're My World" both topped the charts. "Alfie" and "Step Inside Love" reflect the pedigree of their composers; Bacharach & David wrote the former, Lennon & McCartney the latter.

Cilla was no Dusty but her unorthodox delivery shines through. She succeeded, like she has always succeeded, just by being herself.

No doubt she would be too unconventional for today's pop climate. You can just picture Simon Cowell sneering, "You can't sing, you're too ginger...and those teeth." The very imperfections that would be anathema today were the ones that drew the public's affection in the first place.

If only Beginnings had confined itself to these past glories for the new tracks are mired in pure Des & Mel territory. At worst this means the horror of Lennon's "Imagine" featuring Cliff Richard. For no apparent reason Jude Law pops up for an indecipherable voiceover on "Kiss You All Over", while "Anyone Who Had A Heart" is subjected to an excruciatingly unnecessary 'Late Night' mix. It's the middle of the middle of the road.

Regardless of these aberrations Cilla's status is assured. A statue outside the Liver Building is a certainty. But her home is now the small screen, better put a lock on that recording studio and get her back on the telly double quick.

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