Cilla Black, Cilla/In My Life and Sher-oo!/Modern Priscilla (SFE/Cherry Red Records) *****

CILLA'S eldest son, Robert Willis, Cherry Red and SFE should be so proud of this series of reissued albums.

Curated with love and care, the collections present a blueprint of how the back catalogue of a cherished artist should be honoured.

Both double-album sets include an abundance of worthy bonus tracks. Cilla (from 1965) and In My Life (1974) delivers a whopping 26 additional tracks not included on the original sets, while Sher-oo! (1968) and Modern Priscilla (1978) adds a further 21 tracks.

Resplendent with an accompanying 32-page booklet, featuring interviews with Cilla recalling the recording process of four landmark albums and many rare photographs from the EMI archive and the family estate, there is much to discover in the rich and diverse repertoire.

Spanning 13 years, the source albums illustrate Cilla’s rise from Liverpool’s favourite pop princess to showbiz monarch and feature songs as varied as Ol’ Man River, Goin’ Out Of My Head, Jim Croce’s I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song and the disco-infused Silly Boy.

Of the additional tracks, significant interesting items include an original demo version of Step Inside Love with Paul McCartney on guitar; M’Innamoro, an Italian version of the same song; the soundtrack from Work Is A Four-Letter Word; original mono cuts; almighty disco remixes, along with non-album singles and B sides. Dancing In The Streets is a glorious find, as is He Was A Writer, a criminally overlooked single from 1975, even though it featured on Cilla’s television series that summer.

Unquestionably, one of the most beloved of British entertainers, Cilla’s heritage is being well looked after, not least by the splendid theatrical event Cilla The Musical, but also the glorious television drama starring Sheridan Smith and the recent album featuring the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Yet, lest we forget, it was the music that made us all fall in love with Cilla in the first place.

Ian Sime

Ian Sime