Cliff Richard - Small Corners (Digitally Remastered With Bonus Tracks)

Published Friday 11th May 2007
Cliff Richard - Small Corners (Digitally Remastered With Bonus Tracks)
Cliff Richard - Small Corners (Digitally Remastered With Bonus Tracks)

RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 25157-12674
LABEL: EMI 094638197126
RRP: £14.99

Reviewed by Mike Rimmer

The '70s saw the establishment of a new form of gospel music where spiritual themes were explored in a pop and rock style. In America it had been called Jesus Rock but by 1977 when Cliff Richard was recording this album it had begun to be called Contemporary Christian Music or CCM. Although this wasn't the first gospel album of his career, it was certainly his most convincing where he finally drew together a lot of the songs he'd been singing live and recorded them with his current live band. Cliff himself had been enjoying a renaissance in his career which had stalled in the early '70s but had seen him heading back into the charts with songs like "My Kinda Life", "Devil Woman" and "Miss You Nights". Somehow he'd remembered how to rock again and brought those sounds to his new gospel album. In effect 'Small Corners' is part of the missing link between 1976's "Devil Woman" and the number one hit that completely restored his career, 1979's "We Don't Talk Anymore". The album itself has been out of print for quite a while so this digital re-mastered re-release is most welcome since it is an absolute classic Christian music release. The 1978 album draws on songs from some of the top songwriters of the day and features no less than three Larry Norman songs. His reworking of "Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music" opens the album with a bunch of kids singing the Sunday school song which gives the album its title before crashing into the song itself. The song was soon established as a live favourite. Larry's "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" and "Up In Canada" are also included. The rest of the material ranges from a cover of one of Elvis's favourite gospel songs "Why Me Lord" through to the acapella hymn "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross". Cliff's version of Malcolm and Alwyn's "I Love" works nicely with a poppy approach and "Hey Watcha Say" is undoubtedly better than 2nd Chapter Of Acts' original. "Going Home" always felt like a bit of a throwaway track and "Good On The Sally Army" was penned by Allan Shiers, an obscure Christian artist that Cliff had been producing but who never enjoyed much success. Most curious of all were two songs written by a guitarist in Cliff's band, Terry Britten. Not a Christian, the song "Joseph" seemed a bit vague vocally whereas he hit the jackpot with the dynamic "Yes He Lives", a song about the resurrection from a man who didn't believe the message. Strange! Britten himself went on to pen "What's Love Got To Do With It" for Tina Turner so he shouldn't be upset that when "Yes He Lives" was released as a single it failed to chart. The album itself peaked at number 33 on its February 1978 release. Four months later when I became a Christian I can remember scoffing at one of my new friends when he had this in his collection but after listening to it round his house, it wasn't long before I bought my own copy. Musically this captures Cliff at a stage where he was combining pop and rock in a fashion that was returning him to the charts. In its own way, this is a classic and its lack of success chart-wise is more to do with the lyrical content than any musical deficiency. This re-mastered version rather incongruously gives the fan three obscure "inspirational" Cliff b-sides from the early '90s. These may fit in thematically but musically jar somewhat.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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Reader Comments

Posted by David Webb in Canberra, Australia @ 08:12 on Oct 31 2007

I have this album on LP and I am delighted it is now on CD. A great album from one of the 20th Centuries top singers.

Posted by Trevor Kirk in Stoke-on-Trent @ 19:59 on May 15 2007

A good giggle for me on 'I Love' was the way bachelor boy Cliff had to re-write the line 'I like it when my wife brings me breakfast in bed'!!

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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