Cliff Richard

Two a Penny

Cliff Richard - Two a Penny

1968

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All Music Guide Review

In cinematic terms, the least seen of all Cliff Richard movies. But in terms of American junk store finds, Two a Penny might well be the best known of all his 1960s albums, and one wonders what was it about this record that saw it march immediately into the bargain bins...beyond the obvious fact that very few Americans even know who Cliff Richard is, let alone have a reason to buy an album by him. Well, the fact that it is not meant to be very good probably has something to do with it. Another collaboration with arranger Mike Leander, Two a Penny itself was a Billy Graham-conceived variation on the 1950s The Cross and the Switchblade theme, in which a frustrated pop star becomes embroiled in the drugs trade, only to see the light and pledge himself instead to the Lord. It's not a bad movie, and the pop star -- Richard of course -- is portrayed with at least a soupcon of realism. The score, however, is even better. The first half of the album was largely written by the artist himself, in tandem with either Leander or director James Collier, and, while the tunes tend to be fairly standard MOR ballads, they are pleasant enough. Leander himself, meanwhile, contributes a pair of moody instrumentals, "Long Is the Night" and "Daybreak," which desperately deserve to be rediscovered by the modern preoccupation with great movie music. Excellent interpretations of two Paul Simon songs, "Red Rubber Ball" and "Cloudy," number among the highlights elsewhere, while a pumping "Twist and Shout" might suffer somewhat from the desperately cheesy horn line which underpins the riff, but is otherwise a worthy addition to any collection of Richard's most impassioned rockers. Later in the cycle, "Wake Up Wake Up" sprang from the pens of British master songwriters Cook/Greenaway with all the pop aplomb for which they are justly renowned, while "Close to Kathy" is one of those skeletal ballads which always bring out the best of this artist's vocals. Indeed, forced to draw comparisons, Two a Penny runs out as his most musically successful soundtrack album since Summer Holiday. Which means you may want to drop in on the thrift store this afternoon, after all. ~ Dave Thompson, Rovi

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