441. ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’, by Cliff Richard

Twenty years to the day from his very first number one hit, ‘Living Doll’, and over eleven years since his last, Sir Clifford of Richard is back, back, back…

We Don’t Talk Anymore, by Cliff Richard (his 10th of fourteen #1s)

4 weeks, from 19th August – 16th September 1979

The first thing that strikes my ears is how modern this sounds – synths are now just an accepted part of the musical landscape – but also how retro. Especially in the verses, it sounds like one of his old rock ‘n’ roll hits dressed up for the late-seventies. Used to think that life was sweet, Used to think we were so complete… he sings over a simple guitar riff, while hand claps enter later on.

It’s a canny move from Cliff and his record label to release a song like this, one that straddles the sort of easy-listening cheese you expect from the man, but that also slots in perfectly with the sound of the time. The chorus is a belter: It’s so funny, How we don’t talk anymore… At certain points in the song I’m getting hints of Billy Joel, then Hall and Oates, but by the chorus Cliff’s giving us pure Elton John: No I ain’t losin’ sleep, And I ain’t countin’ sheep…!

The synths are maybe a bit tinny – though that’s perhaps because I still have the Tubeway Army ringing in my ears – but aside from that I’m not ashamed to admit that this is a tune. I knew it vaguely, because my mum is a big Cliff fan, but had never properly listened to it. Richard sounds like he’s having a lot of fun, and his falsetto after the post-chorus drop is perhaps the best five seconds from any of his fourteen chart-toppers. Damn it… Cliff sounds… Cool! And then the fade-out has actual hard rock guitars. Hard rock. Cliff Richard. What a moment…

I am amazed to discover that he was still only thirty-eight when ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’ made the top. In my mind, Cliff was a teenage idol for a few years, before waking up one day around 1965 as an old man. Anyway, as young as he still was, this record marked a bit of a comeback for him after a decade in which he’d struggled for hits. It was his first Top 10 single since ‘Devil Woman’ in 1976, and is possibly his biggest hit internationally: a #1 across Europe, and a #7 in the US – only his 2nd release to get that high in the States.

Cliff is famous for managing UK number one singles in five consecutive decades – a feat that nobody else has ever managed – but he left it late in the ‘70s. In a nice touch, the record that kept the run going was produced by Bruce Welsh from his long-time backing band The Shadows, with whom he shared so many ‘60s hits. Amazingly, this is the decade in which Cliff has fewest chart-toppers: in both the eighties and nineties he’ll manage two, while his final #1 is another twenty years away. Whatever you think of the man, his beliefs, and his music… There’s no denying his legend.

And there’s no denying that this might be the best of his fourteen chart-toppers. I say that because none of his earlier hits truly grabbed me – though I do like the rockabilly ‘Please Don’t Tease’ and the unashamed cheese of ‘Congratulations’ – and because I know… shudder… what’s to come… Yes, Cliff’s far from done featuring in this countdown; but I will be nowhere near as generous with his final chart-toppers…!

22 thoughts on “441. ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’, by Cliff Richard

  1. I have a soft spot for the man myself, although I would be quite happy never to hear those two final chart-toppers again. But yes, WDTA was bang on the button for the time, ticked all the right boxes, and is impossible to dislike (OK, I’m sure somebody will come along and contradict me). Until then, he’d struggled with only making the top ten three times during the 70s, and then roared back just as everyone was about to write him off again as a has-been. As you say, undoubtedly the best of his charts-toppers.

  2. This is his career-defining best moment, Cliff had become a showbiz karoake act for the most part by 1976, some good fun pop singles along the way but nothing great since The Day I Met Marie and The Next Time. Miss You Nights changed everything and announced a new adult phase for Cliff, and Devil Woman signalled his new direction, but it was his hook-up with songwriter/arranger and producer Alan Tarney that delivered the quality that marked his early 80’s creative peak. Tarney wrote this, it’s his best record, my fave Cliff, and he never looked cooler dressed in leather on Top Of The Pops, and triggered a run of fab Cliff hits like Carrie, Wired For Sound, All I Ask Of You – mostly synthpop with occasional diversions into Showtunes, Xmas carols, duets with legends like Phil Everley or Elton John or the lovely 50’s cover of Daddy’s Home. Alan Tarney eventually moved on to produce a little ditty called Take On Me by an obscure Norwegian band called a-ha for their first few albums, David Cassidy’s 80’s comeback, and then back to Cliff for his last good late 80’s albums, Saint Etienne’s You’re In a Bad Way and Pulp’s Disco 2000.

    So well done both!

  3. “We Don’t Talk Anymore” sounds exactly like the type of turn of the ’80s pop music that you could hear lots of times on the radio and forget shortly after it’s done playing. Overall it’s not that bad but not something I’m going to actively seek out either. Now that you mention I do hear the Darryl Hall and Elton John similarities in Cliff Richard’s singing which is cool and even in the video, one of the first videos played on MTV, Richard almost looks like Ashton Kutcher’s Kelso character from That ’70s Show.

  4. I always liked this song, too. In fact, my fave Richard song is Devil Woman. I was ten when that came out. Cliff only had a few hits here. If you were to ask Joe Schmoe on the street who Cliff Richard is, you’d get a blank stare unless they were music junkies.

    1. I am jealous of Mr Joe Schmoe’s ignorance… Nah, Cliff’s fine. He’s hard to hate – because so much of his stuff’s just bland – and to have a sixty-odd year career in the music biz you must have ‘something’…

  5. badfinger20 (Max)

    What I know about him came from reading about the Beatles and how they wanted to be the opposite of Cliff….he started off as a rock singer and then went show biz…. He does not like the Beatles…at all. I think a little jealousy has crept into him.
    I do like this song and Devil Woman.

    1. He was rock for about two singles in 1958… Then he went down the teenybopper – MOR route, and has stayed there for most of his career (with some great exceptions, like this record)

      I don’t know about his relationship with the Beatles, but I’ve read some more recent interviews where he seems quite deluded about his current career. He’s complained that Top 40 radio won’t play his singles – as if they’ll play something by an 80 year old! – and I’m sure he claimed somewhere that if he did a duet with Rihanna it would return him to #1…

      1. badfinger20 (Max)

        He lashed out at them in his latest book. I didn’t read the book but the excerpts. He came off deluded also about his popularity compared to the Beatles…it was a different kind of popularity.

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