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Ghost Canyon

Title - Sweet Inspiration / Images [2CD Expanded Edition]
Artist - Cilla Black

For those not in the know, Cilla Black was an much beloved English singer, television presenter, actress and author.

Championed by her friends the Beatles, she began her career as a singer in 1963, and her singles 'Anyone Who Had a Heart' and 'You're My World' both reached number one in the UK in 1964. Black had eleven Top Ten hits on the British charts between then and 1971; and an additional 8 hits that made the top 40.

In May 2010, new research published by BBC Radio 2 showed that her version of 'Anyone Who Had a Heart' was the UK's biggest-selling single by a female artist in the 1960s. 'You're My World' was also a modest hit in the US, peaking at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Along with a successful recording career in the 1960s and early 1970s, Black hosted her own variety show, Cilla, for the BBC between 1968 and 1976. After a brief time as a comedy actress in the mid-1970s, she became a prominent television presenter in the 1980s and 1990s, hosting hit entertainment shows such as Blind Date (1985–2003), The Moment of Truth (1998–2001) and Surprise Surprise (1984–2001).

In 2013, Black celebrated her 50 years in show business. British television network ITV honored this milestone with a one-off entertainment special which aired on 16 October 2013. The show, called The One & Only Cilla Black, featured Black herself and was hosted by Paul O'Grady.

Sadly, Cilla Black died on August 1st, 2015 after a fall in her villa in Estepona, Spain. The day after her funeral, the compilation album The Very Best of Cilla Black went to number one on the UK Albums Chart and the New Zealand Albums Chart; it was her first number one album.

This latest release in the Cilla Original Album Series comes, as ever, with a richly illustrated 28 page photo booklet with introductory sleeve notes and quotes from a 2009 interview with Cilla herself.

The release is produced with the full support and input of the Cilla Black Estate.

In this package we get Cilla’s fifth studio album, 1970’s Sweet Inspiration, which reunited her with Manfred Mann star and respected arranger Mike Vickers.

That's paired with her sixth studio album, Images, where she once again employed both Mike Vickers as musical arranger and Sir George Martin as producer.

CD 1: Sweet Inspiration
1. 'Sweet Inspiration'
2. 'Put a Little Love in Your Heart'
3. 'The April Fools'
4. 'I Can't Go on Living Without You'
5. 'Both Sides Now'
6. 'Across the Universe'
7. 'Black Paper Roses'
8. 'Mysterious People'
9. 'Dear Madame'
10. 'Oh Pleasure Man'
11. 'Little Pleasure Acre'
12. 'For Once in My Life'
13. 'Rule Britannia'
Bonus Tracks
14. 'On a Street Called Hope'
15. 'For Once in My Life' [2009 Stripped Down Mix]
16. 'Black Paper Roses' [2009 Stripped Down Mix]
17. 'Conversations'
18. 'It Feels So Good'
19. 'If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind'

Reuniting Cilla with Manfred Mann star and respected arranger Mike Vickers, the result (Sweet Inspiration) was an album of powerful pop tunes, many of which were written by some of the best songwriters of the day (such as Joni Mitchell, ‘Both Sides Now’, Les Reed, ‘Dear Madame’, Jackie DeShannon, 'Put A Little Love In Your Heart’, Lennon & McCartney, 'Across The Universe’, and Elton John & Bernie Taupin, ‘I Can’t Go On Living Without You’); the latter of which Cilla recorded in 1969 before Elton’s own ascendency to super-stardom.

Also included is Cilla’s rendition of the title song from the movie ‘The April Fools’, which had been penned by crack song-writing team Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and even a spirited and jubilant interpretation of ‘Rule Britannia’.

Released in 1970 by Parlophone Records the album peaked at #42 in the UK Albums Chart in July 1970, but still today has a firm place in the hearts of all Cilla fans.

Pregnant with her son (Robert) at the time of recording it, showcasing a noticeable, softer change in her singing style, she begins with the title track and provides an exuberantly lush collection of tunes thereafter.

A slower-than-we-know version of 'Put a Little Love in Your Heart' is then backed by a tender 'The April Fools,' an upbeat 'I Can't Go on Living Without You,' one of my own personal favorites here, the brilliant 'Both Sides Now,' and then a quietly passive 'Across the Universe' and a mid-tempo 'Black Paper Roses.'

A rather theatrical, perky 'Mysterious People' is another musical gem here and is backed by the smooth 'Dear Madame,' and then the upbeat, finger-snappin' mirth of 'Oh Pleasure Man' comes a'callin'.

The gentleness of 'Little Pleasure Acre' is followed by the raucous (well, as much as Cilla could muster, of course) 'For Once in My Life,' and then we get the last original album track, her sweet rendition of the patriotic song 'Rule Britannia.'

The bonus tracks here are plentiful, which is rather delightful, as we get a truly beautiful 'On a Street Called Hope,' which is backed by 2009 Stripped Down Mixes of both 'For Once in My Life' and 'Black Paper Roses.'

Her UK #7 hit single, 'Conversations' is a lovely track and is followed by the triumphant euro pop sound of 'It Feels So Good,' with the first CD rounding out with the light and breezy delightfulness of 'If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind.'

CD 2: Images
1. 'Faded Images'
2. 'Junk'
3. 'Your Song'
4. 'Just Friends'
5. 'It's Different Now'
6. 'First of May'
7. '(They Long to Be) Close to You'
8. 'Rainbow'
9. 'Make It with You'
10. 'Our Brand New World'
11. 'Sad Sad Song'
12. 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'
Bonus Tracks
13. 'Child of Mine'
14. 'Faded Images' [Take 3 - 2009 Mix]
15. 'Your Song' [Takes 1&2 - 2009 Mix]
16. 'Your Song' [Take 6 - 2009 Stripped Down Mix]
17. 'The World I Wish for You' [2009 Mix Without Fade]
18. 'Faded Images' [Almighty Extended Mix]
19. Cilla Black Message
20. 'Something Tells Me' [Almighty Radio Edit]
21. 'Something Tells Me' [Arnold from Mumbai Remix]

Her next album, her sixth, employed again both Mike Vickers as musical arranger and Sir George Martin as producer. For 1971’s Images album, Sir George Martin, together with Cilla and her husband and manager, Bobby Willis, shortlisted an impressive selection of then contemporary songs which included evergreen classics like ‘First of May’ by The Bee Gees, ‘Make It With You’ by Bread and ‘(They Long To Be) Close To You’ by The Carpenters.

Another exceptional track which made the cut was ‘Your Song’ which was an out-take from Cilla’s previous LP ‘Sweet Inspiration’. Notably, Cilla was the first person to cover this now revered song by the then upcoming singer-songwriter, Elton John.

Other album highlights are Cilla’s deft cover versions of Paul Simon’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and Paul McCartney’s ‘Junk’ which Paul had only himself released the year before on 1970’s ‘McCartney’ album – his first ever solo album!

Another album that once again showed the softer side of Cilla, all the tracks might well be termed as "ballads," but trust me when I say that they range from quietly ornate to mid-tempo very nicely.

Opening with the mid-tempo, funky, horn-backed 'Faded Images,' next up we get a more traditional ballad in the form of 'Junk,' before her exquisite version of EJ's 'Your Song' is brought forth.

The free flowing majesty of 'Just Friends' is next and that's backed seamlessly by the piano work of 'It's Different Now,' the organ work of 'First Of May,' and then a near note-for-note, dutifully harmonized '(They Long to Be) Close to You.'

Backed by a dulcet acoustic guitar and some strings, the mid-tempo 'Rainbow' is then followed by more acoustic guitar on 'Make It with You.'

The original album then rounds out with the gentle foot-tappin' melodies of 'Our Brand New World,' the forceful piano work of 'Sad Sad Song,' before coming to a close on another note-for-note musical gem, her rendition of 'Bridge Over Troubled Waters.'

In a plethora of bonus tracks now included, we first get a gentle 'Child Of Mine, which is followed by various 2009 outtakes and mixes for 'Faded Images,' two versions of 'Your Song,' 'The World I Wish for You' and then a rather good 'Faded Images' [Almighty Extended Mix].

After a quick "Cillabration" from the lady herself, this second CD comes to a close on two versions of her upbeat, summery and always fun to listen to hit 'Something Tells Me.'

Cilla Black @ Facebook!

Official 2CD Purchase Link