Cliff's 34th Top 10 single in Britain, 'Marie' was a top 10 Hit in September 1967.And so Cliff returns with the onerous task of following the Beatles. Arguably he's doing so in more ways than one because by 1967 he had to move with the times and whilst you couldn't call this psychedelic, they're clearly trying for something of a "Summer Of Love" feel, with the music veering from the hazy, dreamy verses to the brass-band enhanced chorus section. Although it would presumably have been recorded before Sgt. Pepper or 'Excerpt From A Teenage Opera' came out, those sorts of sounds were clearly in the air in British pop at the time.
What may come as even more of a surprise to 21st-century listeners who know Cliff only by reputation is the lyric of this song. It's be stretching a point to call it sexy, but there's a definite erotic charge to the tale of Cliff waking up lying in the hay and recalling the mysterious Marie who "came to touch him" and who kissed his brow and told him to go to sleep. Even though the exact details of what preceded the brow-kissing are elided, it changed our protagonist's life somehow. You could see this as a companion to 'Summer The First Time' earlier on this album, except that it strikes a different mood, wistful where Goldsboro is merely boastful. At least this protagonist recognises how lucky he is. Also, and I'm not afraid to say this, this is much better sung. Actually, that's pretty faint praise, so I'll go further: this is a genuinely good vocal performance. two and a quarter minutes it comes to a sudden halt, the sort of trick that was emblematic of its era but also suits the song's meaning. We all know Cliff has made some terrible records in his time, but this isn't actually one of them.
Here's the link I forgot to include in yesterday's post about 'Here Comes The Sun': an isolated section from the backing track with the Moog, strings and handclaps only. I've edited the post to add this but I know not everyone will see that.
Available on: Dansette Days & Jukebox Nights [+Digital Booklet]