For those still old enough to peg the launch of British rock to the evening of February 9, 1964, when four young Liverpudlians appeared, as if from nowhere, on the stage of The Ed Sullivan Show, think of this: last year a different U.K. band celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with a series of sold-out concerts at London’s mammoth O2 Arena. At the height of their success, this band placed an astounding twenty-eight hits atop the British charts, have released over one hundred albums worldwide and their lead singer was knighted by the Queen before Elton John, Tom Jones, Mick Jagger or even Paul McCartney. That singer’s name? Cliff Richard. His band? The Shadows.
Eagle Rock Entertainment’s grand new release, Cliff And The Shadows: The Final Reunion DVD, documents the band’s landmark 2009 O2 Arena performances and constitutes the perfect two-hour primer of and for pre-Beatles British rock. Accordingly, barely a minute into the proceedings and legendary Shadows guitarist Hank B. Marvin claims Cliff’s 1959 chart-topper “Living Doll” as, and I shall quote,”The first real British rock and roll record.” That classic is duly performed herein, along with forty-one! other songs and it’s all in just under 137 minutes. Every song comes fast and furious, short and sweet, and at a near assembly-line pace. All the excitement is captured in sight and especially in sound, which is clean, bright and sharp from the very beginning until the final encore.