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…!