One of our favorite releases of 2017 was Cherry Red/Strike Force Entertainment’s two-fer of Edelweiss (1967) and Look Around (1971) from the big-voiced British pop crooner. While the set didn’t inaugurate the hoped-for series of reissues on CD (to date, at least), Hill followed it up with Legacy: My Hits and Rarities (1965-1974). We’ve caught up with this CD which is available exclusively through the singer’s webstore. It’s both a fine introduction to Hill’s oeuvre and a welcome reminder of why he’s one of Britain’s finest male singers.
Legacy features 25 tracks, 11 of which are new to CD. All but six of its selections were originally released in the 1960s, with the remainder from 1970-1974. The vocalist’s first major credits came at the beginning of the sixties as a member of The Raindrops alongside such other talents as Jackie Lee and Johnny Worth. By late 1961, Hill had departed the group to pursue solo stardom. In mid-1962, he charted his first success on Piccadilly Records with “The River’s Run Dry,” penned by his old friend Worth under his pen name of Les Vandyke. In 1965, Hill signed to EMI and was placed on the U.K. Columbia imprint, and soon he was notching further hits including “Take Me to Your Heart Again,” “Heartaches,” and “Merci, Cherie.” While “The River’s Run Dry” is absent from Legacy – which focuses on Hill’s EMI output, now under the aegis of Warner Music Group – those other three classics are here in splendidly remastered sound courtesy of Ted Carfrae.
Naturally, Hill’s signature song is the centerpiece of this anthology. His heartfelt and tender 1967 rendition of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music – some years removed from the song’s prominence in the original 1959 musical and the 1964 internationally successful film – became Hill’s biggest hit and placed at No. 2 on the U.K. Singles Chart. All ten of his chart hits between 1966 and 1971 are included on Legacy, among them the 1916 British standard “Roses of Picardy,” the 1931 American hit “Love Letters in the Sand” (best-known in Pat Boone’s 1957 chart-topping version), co-composer Gilbert Becaud’s bouncy chanson “The Importance of Your Love,” Rod McKuen’s country-flavored “Doesn’t Anybody Know My Name?,” the Vince co-write “Little Bluebird,” and Francis Lai’s Love Story theme “Look Around (And You’ll Find Me There)” adapted from the score cue “Snow Frolic.”
The artist was particularly comfortable in the realm of film songs, much like his contemporary Matt Monro. His burnished, resonant tone is also heard on cinematic offerings from Cast a Giant Shadow (Elmer Bernstein and Ernie Sheldon’s “Love Me True”), The Long Duel (Patrick John Scott and Don Black’s “When the World Is Ready”), and The Railway Children (Johnny Douglas and Norman Newell’s “More Than Ever Now”).
Among the many other highlights here, Vince brought his powerful voice to Barry Mann and Gerry Goffin’s dramatic “I Could Have Loved You So Well” (a minor U.S. chart entry for Ray Peterson in 1961) with an equally persuasive Johnny Scott arrangement. The ’40s standard “Heartaches” (also recorded by artists as diverse as The Marcels and Patsy Cline) and “Invisible Tears” echoed an American country music sound while his own, rhythmic “A Woman Needs Love,” co-written with Gwen Smith, showcases him in a pure pop vein circa 1966. Just as good is 1971’s “In Every Corner of My World” written by the team of Hill and Ernie Dunstall. It’s hard to believe that these strong B-sides are only receiving their CD premieres now. Legacy doesn’t include too many of Hill’s fine contemporary pop covers, but his reading of John Phillips’ “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” a Summer of Love hit for Scott McKenzie, is an enjoyable detour.
Showcasing the versatility of the all-around entertainer, the set also contains more offbeat choices like a live take of “What Now My Love” from 1966’s Vince Hill at the Club, the traditional “Danny Boy,” the faux-gospel rouser “Glory Hallelujah,” and even a lengthy 1973 medley from George and Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward’s Porgy and Bess.
Following his time at EMI, Vince Hill subsequently recorded for labels including CBS, K-Tel, Celebrity, and Pickwick, and appeared as a popular television presenter. He also appeared as an actor on stage, television and radio. Among his most recent recordings is a 2003 set celebrating the music of Diane Warren. In June 2019, Hill celebrated his 85th birthday with a special farewell concert in his home city of Coventry, raising funds for charity in the community. His website has also released an exclusive download entitled The Lost Sessions 1969-1991 featuring many of Hill’s original compositions alongside classics like “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” “Ol’ Man River,” and “Temptation.”
The CD booklet, designed by compilation producer Stephen Munns, includes a liner note from Vince Hill as well as credits and discography for each track. Equally at home with classic standards, lush film themes, and driving pop, Hill has had an extraordinary career. Legacy: My Hits and Rarities (1965-1974) is an entertaining and nostalgic summation of a decade of music-making from a rich and remarkable voice. It’s available now in standard and autographed editions at the link below.
Vince Hill, Legacy: My Hits and Rarities (1965-1974) (Vince Hill VINCO 01, 2017)
- I Could Have Loved You So Well (*)
- Take Me to Your Heart Again
- Push Push (*)
- Merci Cherie
- Love Me True
- Invisible Tears (*)
- What Now My Love (Live) (*)
- A Woman Needs Love (*)
- Roses of Picardy
- When the World Is Ready
- Love Letters in the Sand
- San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair) (*)
- The Importance of Your Love
- Doesn’t Anybody Know My Name?
- That Wonderful Sound (*)
- Little Bluebird
- Alouette, Alouette (*)
- More Than Ever Now
- Danny Boy
- Look Around (And You’ll Find Me There)
- In Every Corner of My World (*)
- Glory Hallelujah (*)
- Porgy and Bess Medley: I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’/It Ain’t Necessarily So/Summertime/Bess, You Is My Woman Now (*)
(*) denotes new-to-CD track