Cliff Richard long ago secured his place as a permanent Christmas fixture, thanks to Mistletoe & Wine. One of the best Christmas songs of all time, it scored Sir Cliff the UK’s coveted Christmas No.1 spot in 1988, extending his remarkable run of No.1 singles into its fourth consecutive decade (of a phenomenal five). He’s since drawn from the same seasonal source on many occasions (Saviour’s Day, Santa’s List, 21st Century Christmas), but, remarkably, 2022’s Christmas With Cliff is only his second Christmas album. Forget living dolls in an age of AI technology; coming almost two decades on from his first Yuletide record, Christmas With Cliff is the gift fans have truly been waiting for.
Listen to ‘Christmas With Cliff’ here.
Unmistakably seasonal yet with surprising stylistic range
Released on 25 November 2022, less than two months after Cliff Richard celebrated his 80th birthday. Christmas With Cliff pulls off two things at once. Unmistakably seasonal – it arrives with sleigh bells, good tidings and even a gospel choir – the album also underscores just how much ground the octogenarian icon has covered in his eight decades on Earth. It was over four decades ago that he dipped his toe into the nascent synth-pop scene, with his 1981 hit Wired For Sound, and here he revisits that territory again, with a surprisingly electronic overhaul of Jingle Bell Rock, best known for the rockabilly hue of Bobby Helms’ original recording, released just six months before Cliff issued his debut single, Move It, in the late 50s.
But then Cliff has always followed his own path, and has said that Christmas With Cliff’s co-producers, Sam Hollander and Chris Walden, “guided me through the ‘well known’ Christmas songs and freed me to sing them my way”. Hear, then, an emphatic Sleigh Ride, which would glide smoothly along as if through powdery snow were it not for a pair of tubthumping calls to action, crowd cheers and all. Recording the album in the run up to a World Cup, it’s as if Cliff had the vuvuzelas of the best World Cup songs in mind as he drove Sleigh Ride over the finish line.