148. ‘Summer Holiday’, by Cliff Richard & The Shadows

The doors are locked, the suitcases stowed in the boot, the dog’s at the kennels. Dad starts the car and mum turns to the kids in the backseat. We’re all going on a summer holiday… she sings… No more working for a week or two…


Summer Holiday, by Cliff Richard (his 7th of fourteen #1s) & The Shadows (their 11th of twelve #1s)

2 weeks, from 14th – 28th March / 1 week, from 4th – 11th April 1963 (3 weeks total)

Chances are, if you had any sort of semi-regular, middle-class British childhood in the latter half of the twentieth century, you will have lived through that very scene. I know I have – more than once. There can’t be many better known #1 hits than this? I’m racking my brain to think of chart-toppers that more people will know the words to, and I can come up with ‘Hey Jude’, and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’…

We’re goin’ where the sun shines brightly, We’re goin’ where the sea is blue, We’ve seen it in the movies, Now let’s see if it’s true… It’s a horrendously twee song. The jaunty guitar ‘riff’, the glockenspiel, the strings that are apparently now a constant part of Cliff’s musical journey… And those lyrics. So we’re goin’ on a summer holiday, To make our dreams come tr-u-u-u-ue… Fo-or me and you… ‘Trite’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. Then there’s the key-change, and the humming to fade. Humming!

This should be an awful song. It is awful. And yet, it’s not. Not really. Because deep down in even the hardest, most cynical and blackened hearts there remains a kernel of the-child-that-was. And that little kid, in the backseat of his family’s Ford Escort, cares not for the sickeningly perky guitar and the vomit-inducing lyrics; to him it is simply the sound of, well, the summer holidays.


This song is Cliff doing what he does best. Cliff at his Cliffest. Peak Cliff. This will be his last chart-topper for a while, and it’s kind of fitting that we pause here. ‘Summer Holiday’ draws to an end his teeny-bopper stage – very soon he’ll be usurped by a four-piece from Liverpool as Britain’s foremost pop-act of the age. And it’s the perfect song to do so with, as any lingering hope that Cliff was Britain’s great rock ‘n’ roll hope is finally, brutally, irrevocably snuffed out in this record’s opening chords. Looking back at his seven #1s so far, only ‘Please Don’t Tease’ came anywhere close to being a rocker; and even then it was a super-mild rocker. The coconut korma of rock ‘n’ roll records. ‘Summer Holiday’ is, of course, one of the songs that Cliff performed on Wimbledon’s Centre Court during that rain delay, a moment still commemorated every year in Middle England’s village halls…

‘Summer Holiday’ is also the second chart-topping record from the hit movie of the same name, after ‘The Next Time’ / ‘Bachelor Boy’. Which is impressive – not many movies spawn two #1s (and it’s not finished with the chart-toppers yet!)

It also, and this is something that’s just came to me, confirms ‘Summer’ as the biggest single theme in pop music, after Christmas. We’ve already had ‘Here Comes Summer’ by Jerry Keller as a chart-topper in 1959, and I can think of at least three more summer-themed number ones through the years (there are surely others…) Which makes it all the odder that winter was barely finished when this song actually topped the charts… The power of Cliff! Even the seasons couldn’t contain him!


144. ‘The Next Time’ / ‘Bachelor Boy’, by Cliff Richard & The Shadows

As in 1962, the first number one of 1963 is by Cliff and his gang. New year; new Cliff? Well, kind of. His sound is changing… For the worse, mostly.


The Next Time / Bachelor Boy, by Cliff Richard (his 6th of fourteen #1s) and The Shadows (their 9th of twelve #1s)

3 weeks, from 3rd – 24th January 1963

The first thing I noticed after pressing play on ‘The Next Time’ was that there’s an awful lot of piano. Previously, no matter how bland and soppy Cliff got – and he’s been plenty bland and soppy in his five previous chart-toppers – they were all guitar-led tracks. The Shadows are here, apparently, but quite why they were deemed necessary is beyond me. If I were Hank Marvin I wouldn’t have bothered getting out of bed for this one.

Away from the instruments, Cliff is properly crooning. They say I’ll love again someday, A true love will come my way, The ne-e-e-ext time… But after you there’ll never be a next time, Fo-o-o-or me… The song unravels at a snail’s pace, the verses and chorus blending together in a soggy mush. Lord, this is dull. It sounds like something Cliff should have been releasing in his forties; not when he was twenty-two!

There are lots of recurring themes here. It isn’t the first time that The Shadows have had their name on a disc to which their contribution was minimal (see ‘Travellin’ Light’.) It isn’t the first time that Cliff – the man who just three years ago was being hailed as Britain’s great rock ‘n’ roll hope – has released bland, saccharine crap (see ‘I Love You’.) But the more it happens the less I find I have the patience to listen to it.

By the time Cliff’s gone all nineties Hugh Grant, mumbling that he’s Still so very much in love… I’m over it. Grow some balls, Clifford. I can’t think of many previous #1s that were so lacking in oomph, so in need of a kick up the backside.


Can the flip-side of this double-‘A’ redeem it? Well, straight away I’m getting strong whiffs of ‘Whatever Will Be Will Be’, both in the lilting rhythm and in the lyrics. When I was young, My father said, ‘Son I have something to say…’ And what he told me, I’ll never forget, Until my dying day… What is it that his dad imparts, in this testosterone-fuelled ‘Que Sera Sera?’ Well… Son you are a bachelor boy, And that’s the way to stay, Son you be a bachelor boy, Until your dying day…

Why his father is so anti-marriage is not explored, which is a shame, but Cliff wastes no time in putting Pop’s wise words into action. When I was sixteen, I fell in love, With a girl as sweet as can be, But I remembered just in time, What my daddy said to me… There’s no suggestion that he is staying unattached for any kind of racy, sow-my-wild-oats kind of reasons. No, not our saintly Cliff. He concedes, grudgingly, that he probably will fall in love eventually; though he doesn’t sound thrilled at the prospect. Until then though he’s Happy to be a bachelor boy… so on and so forth.

It’s better than ‘The Next Time’, but that’s a very low bar to get over. It’s faster paced, and at two minutes doesn’t outstay its welcome. I suppose this song would have been forgotten completely in the canon of British pop, even in the canon of Cliff, if it hadn’t become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy: Sir Cliff has famously never married. Never even had a serious girlfriend, it seems. Which means that every time the ‘Daily Mail’ runs a story about Cliff and one of his female friends they will, without fail and to this very day, though he’s pushing eighty, trot out the ‘Bachelor Boy’ headlines. I bet he wishes he’d never recorded the bloody song.

Of course, there have always been rumours that Cliff is something of a ‘confirmed bachelor’, ‘not the marrying kind’, a ‘friend of you-know-who’ if you know what I mean, nudge, nudge… And people always argue that, in these enlightened times, he should just come out with it. But when you’ve been courting the evangelical Christian market for decades, and risk losing the only people that still buy your records in doing so… Anyway, all this is neither here nor there. The fact that I’ve started blethering on about this rather than the chart-topping record in question is a sign that I should wrap up.

Both ‘The Next Time’ and ‘Bachelor Boy’ featured on the soundtrack to ‘Summer Holiday’ – Cliff’s latest box-office smash (the 2nd biggest movie of 1963). And I hope you’re ready for more from Cliff and more from The Shadows, because they are going to utterly dominate the first three months of this year. Yay….