Cherry Red’s Strike Force Entertainment (SFE) imprint has released another pair of two-for-one titles in its definitive reissue series dedicated to the late superstar Cilla Black. 1966’s Cilla Sings a Rainbow, the best-selling album of her career, has been paired with 1973’s Day by Day with Cilla, her final LP produced by Sir George Martin; the latter makes its first appearance on CD. It’s been joined by 1970’s Sweet Inspiration with 1971’s Images. As with past volumes in this series, these 2-CD sets reprise the material offered on the 2009 digital expanded editions with numerous new bonuses, some unreleased.
Cilla Sings a Rainbow was produced by Martin with arrangements primarily by Johnny Scott and Nicky Welsh. It’s closely associated with its nominal title track. Arthur Hamilton’s “Sing a Rainbow” had been memorably performed by Peggy Lee onscreen for her Oscar-nominated turn in Pete Kelly’s Blues. Whereas Lee’s rendition was ironically harrowing, Black’s is tender and lullaby-like. (In a 2009 archival interview conducted by reissue producer Stephen Munns, Cilla revealed that the album wasn’t named for the Hamilton song but rather for the colorful attire she wears on its cover photo.) The attractively low-key “Sing a Rainbow” was joined on the LP by both ballads and showstoppers.
The U.K. smash hit “Love’s Just a Broken Heart” is one of Black’s tours de force; a big, European ballad by Michèle Vendôme, Kenny Lynch, and Mort Shuman with swirling strings and ample opportunity for Cilla to vocally soar. She had a further chance to demonstrate her range and power on Bacharach and David’s “Make It Easy on Yourself.” Though the Walker Brothers had the U.K. No. 1 hit with it, Cilla’s take more than holds its own. She also continued her relationship with the music of The Beatles with “Yesterday;” Nicky Welsh’s delicate music box-esque arrangement supports Cilla’s subtle vocal.
The typically eclectic repertoire also included groovy covers of American pop favorites (Len Barry’s “1-2-3,” The Toys’ Motown-aping “A Lover’s Concerto”), the standard “When I Fall in Love,” some velvety soul showcases (“Baby I’m Yours” with a deliciously swaggering Johnny Scott chart, and Ashford, Simpson, and Armstead’s uptempo “The Real Thing” with a “Heat Wave” vibe), and the Italian ballad “My Love Come Home.” Bobby Russell and Martha Sharp’s “In a Woman’s Eyes” would be featured in 1966 on Tom Jones’ sophomore Decca set A-tom-ic Jones, with Jones naturally singing it from a different perspective.
A couple of hidden gems emanated from New York’s Brill Building scene. “(There’s) No Place to Hide” from the team of Roger Atkins and Helen Miller was also recorded in 1965 by Ben E. King in the U.S.; both Cilla’s vocal and Johnny Scott’s lush arrangement are sympathetic to the uptown soul vein. Gary Geld and Peter Udell’s urgent “Everything I Touch Turns to Tears” was cut by a great many artists in 1965-1966 including The Tremeloes’ Brian Poole, Jimmy Clanton, and Barry St. John.
Cilla Sings a Rainbow is bolstered by every album track in mono other than “The Real Thing” plus “I Don’t Want to Know” (the B-side of “I’ve Been Wrong Before”), a new-to-CD alternate take of “Don’t Answer Me,” and Ted Carfrae’s 2009 remix of “A Fool Am I” – for a total of 15 bonus tracks on the first disc.
The two-fer jumps ahead to 1973’s Day by Day with Cilla, so named for the hit song from Stephen Schwartz’s musical Godspell. One of the artist’s most mature albums to that point, Day by Day featured the expected versions of pop hits along with sublime deeper cuts. Producer Martin had a cadre of arrangers on board (Jimmy Horowitz, Chris Gunning, Les Williams, Mike Vickers, and Martin himself) for this strong, eclectic set.
Singer-songwriter Lesley Duncan’s rousing “Help Me Jesus” joined the buoyant “Day by Day” (the expansive arrangement of which incorporates Godspell‘s “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord”) and the Jesus Christ Superstar anthem “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” among the spiritually-inclined material on the disc. The latter’s co-author Tim Rice was a fan of Cilla’s subtly powerful take of the ballad sung in the musical by the character of Mary Magdalene.
During this period, interpretive singers such as Cilla had to come to terms with the blossoming of the singer-songwriter. Here, she tackled material from Don McLean (“Winterwood”) and Graham Nash (“Sleep Song”) as well as “I Hate Sunday” a little-known tune previously recorded by its writer Belle Gonzalez with a Horowitz arrangement (here, Chris Gunning handled the chart) and in Germany by “Alison Wonder.”
Day by Day naturally featured more traditional pop fare, as well. The pretty and tuneful “I’ve Still Got My Heart, Joe” arrived courtesy of the unbeatable team of Roger Greenaway, Roger Cook, and Tony Macaulay; the evocative “Thank Heavens I’ve Got You” dated from Olivia Newton-John tunesmith John Farrar’s time in the group Marvin Welch & Farrar. Cilla also took a game stab at Cher’s 1971 “comeback” record, the carnival-esque “Gypsys, Tramps, and Thieves.”
Despite her long history with The Beatles’ catalogue, Cilla initially resisted recording “The Long and Winding Road.” But with George Martin’s sure hand as producer and Jimmy Horowitz’s as arranger, she delivered a soft rendition far-removed from the Fabs’ Spector-ized recording. Martin’s lone chart on the LP is for John and Yoko’s “Oh My Love.” With trademark strings adding warmth to the haunting melody, it’s altogether lovely. Cilla’s take on Badfinger’s “Without You” underscored the Fab connection.
The six bonus tracks on Day by Day with Cilla include four alternate takes. Ted Carfrae’s 2009 mix lends a contemporary sheen to Cilla’s gentle “The Long and Winding Road” and “Day by Day.” Of the two different takes of “Without You,” one is preceded by an enjoyable bit of Cilla’s in-studio chatter. The Ashford/Simpson/Armstead outtake “Silly Wasn’t I?” is a definite highlight. Valerie had cut it herself on Motown in 1972; Cilla’s version is silky and soulful. An extended, previously unreleased dance mix of “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” (with additional production) rounds out the disc. Ted Carfrae has remastered everything here, and the set includes a 32-page full-color booklet.
Sweet Inspiration, released in July 1970, was Cilla’s first album of the new decade. Its striking cover shot of the artist in profile was inspired by her recent cosmetic surgery. In the 2009 interview published here, the down-to-earth star acknowledges, “it was not long after I had my nose done, so I wanted to show it off.” The album, produced by George Martin and primarily arranged and conducted by Mike Vickers, offered a comfortable grab-bag from some of Cilla’s favorite songwriters. It opens SFE’s second two-for-one release.
Martin arranged and conducted one of its most hauntingly beautiful tracks, Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s dreamy paean to “The April Fools.” The music of her friends The Beatles was once again central to the release. She noted that John Lennon’s “Across the Universe” was a “great song but a hard one to do” but she pulled it off with aplomb. Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway were fresh off Cilla’s big hit “Conversations” (included here as a bonus track) when two of their songs were selected. “Oh Pleasure Man” is an uptempo slice of brassy Swingin’ London; of slightly older vintage was the subtler “Little Pleasure Acre,” cut at the same May 1969 session as “Conversations.”
The early Elton John/Bernie Taupin collaboration “I Can’t Go on Living Without You” was popular among the U.K.’s premier female vocalists. Cilla brought her gutsy best to the Motown-styled stomper also recorded by Lulu, Sandie Shaw, and Polly Brown of Pickettywitch. Cilla adopted a huskier tone for Jackie DeShannon’s timeless anthem “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” given a rhythm-heavy arrangement by Ian Green. John Cameron’s perky “Sweet Inspiration,” a top ten hit for Johnny Johnson and The Bandwagon, was also a beneficiary of a Green chart.
In addition to the familiar likes of “Both Sides Now” and “For Once in My Life,” Sweet Inspiration also made room for more off-the-beaten-path choices including another song from Belle Gonzalez, “Black Paper Roses,” and arranger-conductor Ronnie Hazlehurst’s beguiling adaptation of a German folk melody, “Mysterious People.” Les Reed and Geoff Stephens’ “Dear Madame,” an epistolary song casting Cilla as stealing the titular Madame’s man, is a hidden gem in the songwriters’ extensive catalogues.
Bonus tracks include a third “Cookaway” track from that May 11, 1969 session, the dramatic “A Street Called Hope,” plus both sides of a 1969 single (“If I Ever Thought You’d Change Your Mind” b/w “It Feels So Good”) and stripped-down mixes of “For Once in My Life” and “Black Paper Roses.” The two mixes, both of which effectively place the spotlight squarely on Black’s expressive voice, are making their CD debuts.
Cilla’s sixth studio LP, 1971’s Images, was very much in the spirit of its predecessor. Producer Martin and arranger-conductor Vickers were back on board, and a number of the same songwriters were again represented. The Bacharach and David songbook yielded “(They Long to Be) Close to You,” which after recordings by television’s Dr. Kildare, Richard Chamberlain, and Dionne Warwick, had finally become a hit by the Carpenters. Their treatment, with Richard Carpenter’s now-famous piano introduction, clearly inspired Cilla’s lilting version. She recalled one fun tidbit in the 2009 interview: none other than Dudley Moore tickled the ivories for the session. Cilla continued her patronage of the former Reg Dwight with “Your Song.” Her stirring interpretation was recorded in March 1970 for Sweet Inspiration – about one month before Elton John’s own version was released on his eponymous LP and seven months prior to its issue on 45 RPM – but shelved until Images. Cilla remembered receiving Elton’s demo. She told Stephen Munns that “I sent the demo record back to Dick James Music even though they thought it would be a great song for me to do. I actually said, ‘Get this guy who wrote it to put it out himself as it is fantastic!'” A solo Paul McCartney tune filled the Beatles slot this time: “Junk,” introduced on 1970’s McCartney but written and demoed while he was still with the Fabs. Cilla captured the song’s wistful quality and delicate air. The Rogers Cook and Greenaway’s “Sad, Sad Song” is the only track on Images not arranged by Mike Vickers; Lew Warburton wrote its brass-heavy chart.
Cilla stated that a number of the album’s songs resulted from her BBC-TV show in which she covered the hits of the day (“If we got an incredible reaction from the audience, then I’d put it on my album”). These include Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” David Gates’ “Make It with You,” and a particularly winning take on The Bee Gees’ “First of May.” The balance of the album comprised material from many of Britain’s top songwriters. George Martin likely brought in “Just Friends” from the duo of Edwards Hand (Rod Edwards and Roger Hand); a few months later he would produce the song for the pair’s own recording. Kenny Lynch and The Hollies’ Tony Hicks, with whom he was writing at the time, supplied the catchy “Faded Images.” Clive Westlake wrote two songs. The reflective “It’s Different Now” was also recorded by Clodagh Rodgers and Elvis Presley. The sweet “Our Brand New World” was co-written with Cilla’s husband Bobby Willis.
Nine bonus tracks supplement Images. Alternate takes of “Faded Images” and “Your Song” are presented in Ted Carfrae’s splendid 2009 mixes; it’s fun hearing Cilla’s false start and lyric flubs as she perfects the now-famous latter song with just a rhythm track for accompaniment. Carfrae’s remix of the 1972 single “The World I Wish for You” is also included as is the 1970 single “Child of Mine.” The touching Carole King/Gerry Goffin lullaby took on an added layer of meaning for Cilla as she had recently given birth. A trio of dance mixes (two from Almighty and one from Arnold from Mumbai) plus the late artist’s introduction to the “Something Tells Me” remixes complete the package. As always, Carfrae has remastered both discs here. A 28-page booklet has liner notes, credits, interviews, photos, and more.
This pair of releases seemingly completes Cherry Red’s/SFE Cilla Black series for now, though one hopes it might pick up with complete versions of 1985’s Surprisingly Cilla and 1993’s Through the Years (highlights from both of which were featured on the Especially for You Revisited/Classics and Collectibles two-fer) as well as 1990’s never-reissued Cilla’s World. Any further live or archive material would be equally welcome. In the meantime, these seven releases from executive producer (and Cilla’s son) Robert Willis, producer Stephen Munns, and engineer Ted Carfrae are an essential addition to any fan or collector’s shelf. Both titles are available now at the links below!
CD 1: Cilla Sings a Rainbow (Parlophone PCS 7004, 1966) plus bonus tracks
- Love’s Just a Broken Heart
- A Lover’s Concerto
- Make It Easy on Yourself
- (There’s) No Place to Hide
- When I Fall in Love
- Sing a Rainbow
- Baby I’m Yours
- The Real Thing
- Everything I Touch Turns to Tears
- In a Woman’s Eyes
- My Love Come Home
- I Don’t Want to Know (Mono) (Parlophone single R5269-B, 1965)
- Don’t Answer Me (Alternate Take)
- A Fool Am I (Take 18 – 2009 Orchestral Mix) (*)
- Love’s Just a Broken Heart (Mono)
- A Lover’s Concerto (Mono)
- Make It Easy on Yourself (Mono)
- (There’s) No Place to Hide (Mono)
- When I Fall in Love (Mono)
- Yesterday (Mono)
- Sing a Rainbow (Mono)
- Baby I’m Yours (Mono)
- Everything I Touch Turns to Tears (Mono)
- In a Woman’s Eyes (Mono)
- My Love Come Home (Mono)
CD 2: Day by Day with Cilla (Parlophone PCS 7155, 1973) plus bonus tracks
- Without You
- Thank Heavens I’ve Got You
- Help Me Jesus
- The Long and Winding Road
- I Hate Sundays
- I Don’t Know How to Love Him
- Day by Day
- I’ve Still Got My Heart Joe
- Sleep Song
- Gypsys, Tramps, and Thieves
- Oh My Love
- The Long and Winding Road (Take 1 Without Fade – 2009 Mix) (*)
- Without You (Take 1 Outtake – 2009 Mix) (*)
- Without You (Take 2 – 2009 Mix) (*)
- Day by Day (Take 1 Without Fade – 2009 Mix) (*)
- Silly, Wasn’t I? (Outtake)
- I Don’t Know How to Love Him (David Lee Marks Extended Mix) (**)
(*) denotes new-to-CD track
(**) denotes previously unreleased track
CD 1: Sweet Inspiration (Parlophone PCS 7103, 1970)
- Sweet Inspiration
- Put a Little Love in Your Heart
- The April Fools
- I Can’t Go on Living Without You
- Both Sides Now
- Across the Universe
- Black Paper Roses
- Mysterious People
- Dear Madame
- Oh Pleasure Man
- Little Pleasure Acre
- For Once in My Life
- Rule Britannia
- On a Street Called Hope (Outtake)
- For Once in My Life (2009 Stripped Down Mix) (*)
- Black Paper Roses (2009 Stripped Down Mix) (*)
- Conversations (Parlophone single R5785-A, 1969)
- It Feels So Good (Parlophone single R5820-B, 1969)
- If I Thought You’d Ever Change Your Mind (Parlophone single R5820-A, 1969)
CD 2: Images (Parlophone PCS 7128, 1971)
- Faded Images
- Your Song
- Just Friends
- It’s Different Now
- First of May
- (They Long to Be) Close to You
- Make It with You
- Our Brand New World
- Sad Sad Song
- Bridge Over Troubled Water
- Child of Mine
- Faded Images (Take 3 – 2009 Mix) (*)
- Your Song (Take 1 & 2 Outtakes – 2009 Mix) (*)
- Your Song (Take 6 – 2009 Stripped Down Mix) (*)
- The World I Wish for You (2009 Mix Without Fade)
- Faded Images (Almighty Extended Mix) (**)
- Cilla Black Message
- Something Tells Me (Almighty Radio Edit)
- Something Tells Me (Arnold from Mumbai Remix) (*)
(*) denotes new-to-CD track
(**) denotes previously unreleased track