It's the kind of record that gives the middle-of-the-road a good name.
Alwyn Turner 2004
The Millennium Prayer, the Wimbledon sing-along, the wine, the perfume, the unfashionable Christianity -sometimes it seems hard not to mock Sir Cliff.
All of which tends to obscure the fact that in amongst the Christmas singles has been some fine music. Every few years he gets the urge to raise the quality threshold, reach out to the uncommitted and thereby reinvent his career. The last semi-decent album was Real As I Wanna Be back in 1998, but only a fool would write off a man still standing after almost fifty years of hits.
So here he is, back with an album that could be as significant for him as I'm Nearly Famous or Wired For Sound, a genuine contender that will win hima new swathe of fans, perhaps even -and this has always been the Holy Grail -in America itself.
Recorded in Nashville, with all the polish and professionalism that implies, Something's Going On is a diverse set of thirteen new songs, country in style if not always in treatment, that exudes absolute confidence. From the opening rocker, "Thousand Miles To Go", through to the quietly devotional "Faithful One", this is the sound of a mature performer at ease with his 64-year-old self. (Except , perhaps, for the slightly disturbing story of wrecking his dad's '68 Camero on "What Car.")
Highlights include the gently swinging first single "Somethin Is Goin' On", the smooth Barry & Ashley Gibb collaboration on "I Cannot Give You My Love" and the lovely "For Life", an account of love grounded in faith that is as exquisite as anything he's done since "Miss You Nights."
Even on the weaker material, the effortless mastery of his craft and the perfect vocal phrasing reveal a Cliff Richard that will surprise and confound the doubters. Despite the mockery, he really is a national treasure, and this is him on top form, looking and sounding better than he has for quarter of a century. It's the kind of record that gives the middle-of-the-road a good name.