Deep Dive: Cilla Black, MODERN PRISCILLA
Today we celebrate the birthday of Cilla Black, one of the UK’s most beloved female vocalists, and we do so by doing a deep dive into the final album Cilla released during her decade-and-a-half long tenure with EMI Records.
Produced by Mike Hurst, MODERN PRISCILLA was aptly titled, as it found Cilla dipping her toe into disco, which was – as any child of the ‘70s worth his or her salt already knows – all the rage in the late ‘70s. Hurst, who was in the midst of working with the band Showaddywaddy at the time, was initially only brought on to produce a single for Cilla (“I Wanted to Call It Off”), but since the album was going to follow the same general musical trend, Hurst carried over to helm MODERN PRISCILLA as well.
Reflecting on the album when it was reissued a few years ago, the website The Recoup wrote that “Hurst...added a distinctive disco flavor to [Black’s] work, while actively selecting material that didn’t involve well-known covers. Thus, the resulting album is very much a low-key affair; his disco turn isn’t quite as dramatic as the genre might lead you to believe; think Hues Corporation with a little bit of the lighter moments of ABBA and Melissa Manchester and that’s what you’ve got.”
While it’s fair to say that Black’s lasting legacy is not built around disco-era Cilla, MODERN PRISCILLA does show an artist who – even in her final LP for her longtime label – wasn’t afraid to take some creative chances.
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