Review: Cilla Black – Cilla Sings A Rainbow / Day By Day (SFE)

If you are old enough to remember playing Cilla Black’s records, there is a chance you either bought them on original release, or like myself became familiar with them via your parents record collection.

Cherry Red’s current series of original album reissues are therefore a nostalgic trip, not only for fans of Cilla’s music but also whose memories stretch back to when she presented her own music show on BBC1 in the late 60s/early 70s.

Album Reissue Captures Saturday Night Cilla

Although some seven years apart, Cilla Sings A Rainbow (from 1966) and Day By Day (from 1973) capture much of the aura of Saturday night Cilla across two album releases.

While Cilla Sings a Rainbow is lush with its George Martin orchestrations of pop classics such as Mort Shuman’s Love’s Just a Broken Heart and Bacharach & David’s heart-breaking Make It Easy On Yourself, Day By Day shines a light on the accessible musical pop of Sondheim’s title track from Godspell and Lloyd Webber & Rice’s ballad from Jesus Christ Superstar, I Don’t Know How To Love Him.

Singles for Cilla weren’t troubling the charts as they were back in the 60s by 1973, but by then Cilla’s fans were finding albums such as Day By Day a bigger draw for their carefully cultivated material. There’s a nod to Cilla’s old Merseyside friends The Beatles with Lennon & McCartney’s Long and Winding Road . George Martin is on hand once again with production duties while Cilla puts her own stamp on Graham Nash’s Sleep Song, John Farrar & Peter Best’s Thank Heavens I Got You and Pete Ham’s timeless ballad, Without You.

Cilla Sings A Rainbow and day By Day form part of the Cilla Original album Series released by SSE via Cherry Red.Cilla Sings A Rainbow and day By Day form part of the Cilla Original album Series released by SSE via Cherry Red.

Cilla Sings A Rainbow and day By Day form part of the Cilla Original album Series released by SSE via Cherry Red.

Cilla Sings A Rainbow’s Timeless Appeal

Although the 70s were in full steam by the time Day By Day saw release, it was at this point as a young boy that I discovered Cilla Sings A Rainbow in my mothers record collection. Many of the tracks on that release later ended up featuring regularly in Cilla’s television series and started showing a timeless appeal by 1973, gaining the album a stereo reissue on EMI’s budget label Sounds Superb around the same time.

Sing A Rainbow is the track that inspired the album title and memorable cover (check out a young Cilla in her colourful outfit!). Already established by singers such as Peggy Lee and Andy Williams, Cilla’s interpretation becomes her own from the quaint music box introduction of which she magically ebbs and flows into the song lyrics.

Again, there are familiar songs, her version of Lennon & McCartney’s Yesterday (which nearly became a single!) and a warm and wonderful version of Victor Young’s When I Fall In Love.

Cilla’s Powehouse Vocals on Armstead, Ashford & Simpson’s The Real Thing

For me, the album highlight is her powerhouse vocal on The Real Thing written by Joshie Armstead, Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson (later responsible for Solid as Ashford & Simpson in the 80s).

In both instances, Cilla Sings a Rainbow and Day By Day come with additional bonus tracks and a detailed booklet packed with photographs and archive comments from Cilla herself.

With the current government restrictions encouraging us all to stay home, its probably fair to think that if she were still with us, Cilla would have been encouraging us all to keep safe. This pairing of Cilla Sings A Rainbow and Day By Day is both timely and relevant as well as representing two shining examples of why Cilla’s career as an entertainer would span the decades that followed.