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Move It
Cliff Richard
listen to Move It
Cliff Richard

Before The Beatles, there were only ever two authentic British rock’n’roll records. One was ‘Shakin’ All Over’ by Johnny Kidd & The Pirates the other was ‘Move It’, a certain teenager’s first single. The eighteen-year old in question was only just getting used to being called Cliff Richard when, in the late summer of 1958, he cut his debut single.

Only the year before, Cliff had lost his school prefect’s badge for playing truant to watch Bill Haley & The Comets perform. Now he had a rock’n’roll trio of his own called the Drifters - whose guitarist Ian Samwell had written ‘Move It’, his first-ever song, on a Green Line bus while travelling to visit Cliff in Chesham, Hertfordshire.

Cliff Richard
It was strictly do it yourself type of music - but it was very limited...

This is Sir Cliff’s “Its Alright Mama”. It’s a taut, edgy debut that augured well for a career, which like the King’s, only too frequently ended up mired in slush. Sure, the lead guitar sound was dangerously thin and echoey, ‘ballet and calypso’ seemed lyrically middle-aged, and the production on this repetitive 12-bar tune rang hollow, but that drawling vocal and driving rhythm guitar made it a coffee bar smash.
Dominic King

Cliff’s first single - ‘Schoolboy Crush’, which had been a hit for Bobby Helms - was recorded with the Drifters at Abbey Road studios. This was a familiar pattern for fledgling British rock’n’rollers - their best chance for success still lay in being the first to cover an established American hit.

The record label put all their marketing might behind ‘Schoolboy Crush’, until Jack Good - the influential producer of TV's Oh Boy! - began raving about the B-side, ‘Move It’, (“this disc could sell 50,000 on its first eight bars alone!” he enthused). In September 1958, Cliff made his television debut singing ‘Move It’ - and later that month the record reached #2, thus launching a unique 45 year rock’n’roll career.

Today, Sir Cliff is the only act who can claim to have enjoyed hit records over six decades. But it all began with a staccato guitar figure, and Cliff Richard growling “C’mon pretty baby, let’s move it and a groove it…”

Patrick Humphries

Cliff Richard: The Biography by Steve Turner (Lion Books, 1993)

Your comments.Personally I think the British music industry should be proud of this song.

Eleanor Lee

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