Cilla Black - Completely Cilla 1963-1973
Cilla Black wasn't a natural singer when the Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein, discovered her, and while she learned the ropes well enough and developed into a strong ballad singer, she was never a serious threat to Dusty Springfield in the talent department. But the pop world isn't really about pure talent as much as it is a matter of timing, luck, having the right look, and maybe most of all, good material and good production. Black had all of those things going for her in the early '60s, and since her producer throughout the decade was none other than George Martin, her signature body of work between 1963 and 1973, the period covered by this lavish box set (released in advance of Black's 50th anniversary as a performer in 2013), holds up pretty well all these years later. Not bad for a onetime hatcheck girl at the Cavern Club -- out of all Epstein's Liverpool acts, which also included Gerry & the Pacemakers and Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas, she trailed only the Beatles in total record sales. This six-disc box (five CDs and a DVD) collects all the A- and B-sides of her singles, her EPs, and her seven LPs in the order they were recorded, 139 songs in all, the majority of which were produced by Martin. The DVD is also a real treat, featuring 25 video clips drawn from her BBC shows and television appearances from the same time period. Throw in the 36-page booklet that accompanies things, and this set is the complete deal, the most complete presentation yet of Black's work from her peak commercial years.