Bittersweet 
Clifford T Ward

Bittersweet - Front picture
(1999)
1) Wherewithal
2) End of Time Tonight
3) Yesterday In Parliament
4) Mad About You
5) Somehow
6) This Was Our Love
7) Jayne From Andromeda Spiral
8) Lady With The Book In Her Hand
9) Escalator
10) It's Such a Pity
11) Evening
12) Naughty Boy
13) Before the World Was Round
14) Last Train Tonight
15) Lost Again
16) Sidetracked
17) Thinking About You
18) Always Think About You
19) Snakes and Ladders


(Available on C.D. only)
RP Media Ltd
CDRPM 0052


Bittersweet - 'Special Edition' front cover Bittersweet - 'Special Edition' insert pictures Bittersweet - 'Special Edition' insert pictures

The additional insert pictures supplied with the 'Special Edition' release
This comes in a lovely silvered tin case - and is available to members of the fan club - 'Friends of Clifford T Ward'

All songs written by Clifford T. Ward
All Vocals: Clifford T. Ward

(No other album details are given)

The two sets of CD sleeve notes are presented below.
(The 'Special Edition' has an extra set of notes - and informs us that there will be another album release - scheduled for October/November 1999!)

This has really knocked me sideways.

We are living in a world where trophies, awards and ribbons are handed out for the least achievement; where songwriters are lauded for 'ditties' that are locked in the collective consciousness for no other reason than their being play-listed by a digitised, easy-option media, starved of good songs, and I am here, writing yet another sleeve note for yet another Clifford T. Ward collection. Is it little surprise that I am wondering, 'Where are the medals for this man?'

Any one of these songs is equal to - if not better than - most of the 'song of the year' nominees over the past twenty years, yet the writer's name is only whispered in hushed tones, his unique talent kept a closely guarded secret by those who really - let's face it - should know better.

But of course, to win, you have to be in the race, and Clifford T. Ward has not written, or sung anything in public since 1985.

Thanks be, then, that by the time his multiple sclerosis was diagnosed in 1984, he had miraculously stored away such a vast collection of songs that releases such as this are still possible - and of such quality - that he surely moves one step closer to his due recognition.

As a musician and songwriter myself, I have had to live with the success of Clifford T. Ward for the last quarter of this century. His brief chart appearance in 1973 made an everlasting impression on many, but has haunted me ever since, mainly because we have been near-neighbours for most of our lives.

Yet when I was asked to write his biography, I made a conscious decision not to write just another pop-tale - 'first he did this, then he did that; then he wrote this, then he wrote that' - and to stay away from his music, especially his lesser-known songs, so that I could, in effect, concentrate on his actual life.

But along the way, I was seconded to write articles and reviews (and sleeve notes) and found it impossible to do these things without sitting down and listening to whatever 'new' Clifford T. Ward product was on the market. And my cynical, jaded ear - coloured grey by over 12 years of presenting singer-songwriter programmes on radio and often trying to justify the existence of many of the subjects - suddenly found delights by the dozen; songs that Clifford had rejected at the height of his fame, or discarded as a result of it; old demos, alternates, out-takes and song-sketches. I became increasingly aware of what I now recognise as a 'conspicuous talent'.

Lest there still be any doubt, buy this CD. Just take my word for it. You will hear songs being born, love being celebrated, life being lived; all seen through the looking-glass of a master craftsman and all created and performed with that unmistakable stamp of quality.

Clifford T. Ward pinned his soul to his sleeve and these songs, be they two-track mono or eight-track stereo, will stir your emotions, lift your spirit and make you feel good to be a part of it all.

Despite exhaustive research, it has been impossible for me to analyse his talent in terms of creative progression. Clifford T. Ward will never give the same answer twice. He never kept a diary and he never dated his lyric sheets, so we will never know when he wrote The Best Is Yet To Come, Up In The World or some of the beautiful discoveries on this disc: Evening, End Of Time Tonight, Snakes And Ladders. And for pure joy, forget such concerns and listen to the Stourport patios of Naughty Boy - "You's a naughty boy, yes you is, yes you is . . .", the Rocky-Racoon-cry of Yesterday In Parliament, with its McCartney-esque scat singing; and the sheer exuberance of Mad About You, recorded two days before his tonsils were ripped out.

What is apparent from these 'new' releases is that from the very beginning - Clifford T. Ward wrote with such intensity, such abundance, that he was able to draw from a stockpile whenever the need arose. And that is why songs of such quality are still rising to the surface.

Trust me, trust your instincts, trust your bank manager. I bet he has a copy already, that's why he's treating you so well . . .

Dave Cartwright
Author of Bittersweet - The Clifford T. Ward Story
published by Moonicorn Books, May 1999
email: lunacornis@aol.com

 

It is again a privilege to present more songs from the very talented Clifford T. Ward. Some of them, which you may have heard before on previous albums, have been digitally re-mixed and are available for the first time on CD. Other new titles in demo form, discovered by Cliff's wife Pat, have had the benefit of the addition of some talented musicians, perfectly sympathetic and in tune with Cliff's style.

We would like to thank both EMI/Virgin Records' Rupert Perry and Mercury Records' John Kennedy, for allowing us to use specific titles owned by them on this compilation CD.

David Paramor
RP Media Limited

A Message from Cliff:

"I would like to thank all my friends
for their love and support and I hope
you will enjoy this new album."

Clifford T. Ward

My comments:

A real hotchpotch of bits and all-sorts this one. The album opens with a welcome and very refreshing re-mix of Wherewithal: also appearing on the album is a rarely heard 'alternate take' of Escalator, though, I have to say, I prefer the original album version to this one. Also included are several 'digitally re-mastered' versions of Cliff's earlier songs, namely Jayne From Andromeda Spiral, Before the World Was Round and Sidetracked, and while all good songs, I can think of many others I'd much rather have had on CD for the first time - such as Ocean of Love, and The Best is Yet To Come to name a few. Very welcome on the album, and making its first appearance on CD is (my favourite) Lost Again, (when I first heard this title, I thought Cliff had been writing a song about our local football team!) though why on earth has it been re-produced from a (warped) vinyl copy - a situation which is quite evident. Surely the master-tapes would have been available to the CD producers. Another big disappointment is the presentation of Cliff's very beautiful song, Evening. This is the only existing version sung by Cliff - and makes its first ever appearance here. It is evident that the guitar accompaniment has been recently added, presumably to provide a better 'backing' than the original to Cliff's vocals; beautifully played too is the accompaniment, but they seem to have become so obsessed with it that Cliff's voice is almost totally swamped out - even to the point of being shoved into the right channel - just to make sure it doesn't get in the way of the wonderful guitar work. Here's my tip: if your hi-fi has a 'balance' control, adjust it so the left channel almost disappears - the resultant balance between vocals and accompaniment (in the right channel) is then much better. I feel annoyed that the producers have made such a mess of this beautiful song, which would otherwise have been, for me, the highlight of the album. Those who have the 'Studio Sessions' tape, which was available to fan-club members several years ago, will recognise the selection of songs from this, namely End of Time Tonight, Last Train Tonight, This Was Our Love, Yesterday In Parliament, and Somehow. All these songs are blatantly in an unfinished condition, yet despite this, the first three are an absolute joy to listen to, though the latter two never did anything for me - why was Let's Be Fools Again not included instead of one of these? Some additional accompaniment has been added to these recordings, making some improvement from the versions that appeared on the 'Studio Sessions' tape. Finally, there is a selection of songs from the old tapes discovered about a year ago in Cliff's garage - demo recordings made before Cliff achieved fame. Several of these, in particular, Mad About You, Naughty Boy, and Always Think About You, are brilliant, and would have done the 'Hidden Treasures' album proud; even the others are quite listenable.

I would have no problem in awarding Cliff high marks for the general quality of the songs on this album, but, unfortunately, in my opinion, the 'CD producers' have not reached the same high standard with its production that they did with 'Hidden Treasures'. I'm sure the album's title, Bittersweet, was not chosen as a representation of its contents - but I feel it is, quite literally, just that!

Marks: 6 out of 10.


Copyright © 1999 Michael Armitage

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