Saturday, 21 May 2011

Cilla Black - You're My World (1964/ No. 1/ 17 weeks/ Parlophone)

It's the combination of two factors that makes this single so thrilling for me; George Martin's arrangement and Cilla Black's performance.

Martin's productions for the Beatles are forever and rightly lauded, of course: the great enabler, tactfully and modestly allowing the visionary music of the young mens' imaginations to be brought to life. But this thoughtful sense of how to make records emotive and artful worked in other places, too - most remarkably in The Goons' crazed hits of the 1950s, but also for more conventional pieces such as 'You're My World'.

When we praise Cilla Black's music of the 1960s, we tend to talk about her breathier and more vulnerable moments - Step Inside Love, Surround Yourself With Sorrow - these are tremendous singles, but skirt around from acknowledging that her most celebrated ability was to absolutely belt out songs, and not even in a controlled and phrased Shirley Bassey manner either, but with the overflowing emotion of a very young woman very eager to impress and to please. This vocal approach certainly provokes a fingernails-squeaking-the-blackboard aversion on the part of many listeners, and how I respond to it or not is very much dependent upon which song she's attacking.

'You're My World' is perhaps the ideal vehicle for a full-blooded Black performance. It has to be said that it is a pretty formulaic song - the premise of "I can't live without your love" swiftly established and then amplified to greater and greater levels of dependence over three minutes. This sense of formula is accentuated by the fact that 'You're My World' is a song in translation, starting life as 'Il Mio Mondo', a recent Italian hit for Umberto Bindi snapped up by Brian Epstein as a likely smash hit instant follow up to her chart-topping 'Anyone Who Had A Heart'.

Martin and Black between them manage to make this old trope of a sentiment sound epochal. The single has the most brilliant introduction, a menacing seven seconds of strings, begging to be sampled;

TCHANG!! Tchangtchang! Tchangtchang. (tchangtchang)...

TCHANG!! Tchangtchang! Tchangtchang. (tchangtchang)...

And an - as yet subdued - Cilla establishes what this song is going to be about;

You‘re my world, you‘re every breath - I take

You‘re my world, you're every move - I make

Some up-down piano scales and sedately swoopy violins over the next two lines;

Other eyes see the stars up in the skies

But for meeee they shine with-in - your - eyes

This is already swelling a bit, but its soo obvious that its about to burst... When and how is it going to happen?;

As the trees reach for the sun above...

TCHANG!! Tchangtchang! Tchangtchang. (tchangtchang)...

(YES! Those scary strings are back! I KNEW that had to happen!)

So my arms reach out to you - for love

With your haaaaahnd res-ting in miiiiiihn

Hih feel a poooooow-er soh deviiiiiine -

(YES! YES! Here it comes right NOW! - a great thunderburst of orchestration and vocals. We get the TCHANGTCHANG! but accompanied by trumpets this time - cueing in a Cilla unleashed;



The trumpets have been joined by a full barrage of strings and some indecorously clumping drums;



To support Cilla's all-encompassing feeling with some divine gravitas, a host of heavenly voices appear from out of nowhere. They are backing vocalists The Breakaways, and it sounds as though there are a hundred of them...;


The effect is like a hi-fidelity Abbey Road Studios approximation of Phil Spector's Wall Of Sound. Trumpets offer a noisesome fanfare - DJANGDJANG! DJANGDJANGAJANG! - before Cilla reiterates the global scale of her love;




The effect is then repeated over the remainder of the single, on a yet grander and louder scale. With a song like this, you really can't go at it half-cock. A vast canvas, suitable for two talents who enjoy achieving a big music.

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