Our third meeting with Sir Clifford. Just the eleven (11!) more to go…
Please Don’t Tease, by Cliff Richard (his 3rd of fourteen #1s) & The Shadows (their 3rd of twelve #1s)
1 week, from 28th July – 4th August / 2 weeks, from 11th – 25th August 1960 (3 weeks total)
I mentioned during my last post that the opening months of 1960 have seen rock ‘n’ roll undergoing a castration at the top of the charts – all the sounds and stylings of this musical revolution diluted down to a poppy mulch (see Johnny Preston, ‘Three Steps to Heaven’ and all that.) And if this latest #1 isn’t just the blandest, most castrated version of rock ‘n’ roll going. But Goddam don’t I just love it…
You tell me that you love me, baby, Then you say you don’t, You tell me that you’ll come over, Then you say you won’t… Cliff loves a girl, but she’s leading him a merry dance. That’s all you need to know lyric-wise. It’s all something something come on and squeeze me something something your tender touch. Nobody’s coming here to have their thoughts provoked. (The use of ‘doggone’ in the second verse is worthy of note, however, as the one and only time in recorded history that a British person has ever used the term.)
No, this is a record best described as ‘breezy’, bouncing along like a light-hearted summer’s picnic, carried on a chord progression that satisfies our most basic urges and by the fact that – praise be! – The Shadows finally get something to do. Having sat through Cliff’s first two chart-toppers with barely a sniff of the action, they get a rocking little solo here and lend a cool revving sound under the Oh please don’t tease… lines in the bridge.
And, lo! Is that the sound – the merest whiff – of a riff at the beginning and the end of this record? Da-dun-dun-dun-da-da-dun-dun-da-da-da…? We aren’t in the ‘riff era’ yet – the rock songs that have topped the charts thus far have been all about the solos and the rhythm rather than any memorable, 100% guitar-led riffs. But here… It’s no ‘Smoke on the Water’ that’s for sure, but it stands out as something that you could perhaps play air guitar to. I also – and this might be a bit crazy – get a sort of Merseybeat-vibe from said riff, at least three years ahead of The Searchers and Gerry & The Pacemakers, and The Beatles obv., turning it into the dominant musical movement of the mid-sixties. Or maybe that’s just me.
And… that’s about it for this one: with an artist as successful as Cliff you can take each of his many, many #1s as songs in their own right without needing to go into so much backstory and detail. They are all signposts on our journey through British popular music history, with Cliff at the wheel. ‘Please Don’t Tease’ is definitely one of his more forgotten hits; but one that’s worth rediscovering. And notable in its way, as Cliff and his backing group will soon be going their separate ways. The next time we hear from The Shadows – very shortly, in fact – they will be quite Cliff-less.