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LONDON (Reuters) - Veteran British crooner Cliff Richard is teaming up with some of the biggest names in soul for a new album to be produced by Motown songwriting great Lamont Dozier.
Richard, the 70-year-old hit machine who is treated as something of an institution in Britain, said he felt the need to experiment in order to remain fresh in the eyes of the public, after celebrating 50 years in pop in 2008.
"I have tried to make some changes in the recent past, particularly since the record industry seems to have taken a total nosedive, artists have to think of new things to present to the public," he told reporters at the official launch of the new album, to appear on the EMI label in October.
"It's difficult being new when you've been singing for 52 years, but you can be new by doing something that's off the wall. No one would have expected me to sing a bunch of soul songs with iconic soul singers but I'm going to try.
"I'm going to do my soul, they're going to do their soul and we should end up sounding soul-licious."
Concert promoter and reality TV star David Gest, who is executive producing the album, said there would be a tour of Britain in October, a DVD of how the record was made and a possible show in Las Vegas in December.
Richard, who has topped the charts in Britain with hits like "Living Doll," "Summer Holiday" and "We Don't Talk Anymore," is one of the country's most successful pop stars, but he has not matched that record in the United States.
"I have never made it in the States and I think it's jolly well about time," Richard said.
Richard said he jumped at the chance to record duets with the likes of The Temptations singer Dennis Edwards, The Stylistics' Russell Thompkins, Jr. and Percy Sledge, best known for his rendition of the hit "When a Man Loves a Woman."
"If we can finish this, I will have died and gone to heaven," said Richard.
"Because when you think of all the other names, the possibility of singing with all of them, you're talking about iconic people from the history of pop rock music ... it's just a dream come true for me."
Gest said he expected younger, contemporary stars to feature on the album as well.
"Don't be shocked if there is a rap or two on this record," he said.
Dozier, part of the Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team that helped shape the Motown sound, said fans were in for "something special."
"We're very exited about it," he said. "I'm knee-deep in songs and preparing a lot of great things for Cliff, a lot of challenges, but I think he can weather the storm. He has a great voice."
The album will be recorded in Memphis.
Reporting by Mike Collett-White