Sunday, July 10, 2011

Petula Clark - The EP Collection VOL.1-2

Petula Clark is the popular British singer whose success can be measured in terms of the 70 million records she has sold around the world.

Her rise to fame began when she toured as a child star entertaining the troops during World War II. When the war was over she began a film and television career, starring in several movies and hosting her own variety show. Her first album release was in 1949 and in the 1950s she enjoyed a string of hits in Britain starting with “The Little Shoemaker” in 1954. Her success spread to Europe as she signed with Vogue Records in France and began to release a series of foreign language albums. “Downtown” hit the charts in 1965 and marked her entry into American public affections. During the 60s she was a star but her commercial appeal began to wane towards the end of the decade. Nonetheless she continued to tour and performed to sell-out audiences across the world, juggled her work with a desire to spend more time with her family.

Even into the new millennium Petula Clark’s schedule remains packed, with one woman shows, tours and television appearances.

Petula Clark -  The EP Collection  Vol.1 (Mono/Stereo)

This 29-song EP, clocking in at 77 minutes, is more generously programmed than any other collection of Petula Clark's hits, and it may well delight fans of Clark's voice. On the other hand, those who are admirers of the sound of Clark's familiar mid- to late-1960s' hits may find it rough sailing, because half the material on this disc predates the advent of that part of her career, when Clark was still an adult pop singer in the Doris Day or Rosemary Clooney mold. For real fans, however, it is a veritable celebration of her voice in all of its guises, from 1956's "With Your Love" through "Downtown" (which appears right at the track 15 spot here), to 1967's "Don't Sleep in the Subway." The stylistic range of this material will astound casual listeners, who only know Clark's post-"Downtown" career. Not all of the material is especially noteworthy -- "Welcome Home," although nicely arranged and well sung, might as well be a lesser Patti Page recording -- but some of the material does, indeed, command serious attention. The most notable track here, unique on CD to this collection, is Clark's lyrical, slow ballad version of the Honeycombs' hit "Have I the Right," an extraordinary reinterpretation that could and should have challenged the original. And Clark's cover of the Bacharach-David song "True Love Never Runs Smooth" is a lost '60s pop/rock treasure that was released (in England) in tandem with "Downtown." Oddly enough, several songs that don't fit in especially well with her album releases on CD work beautifully here, most notably "We Can Work It Out" and "Here, There and Everywhere." Clark's own work as a composer is reasonably well represented, with "Gotta Tell the World," "Hold On to What You Got," and "While the Children Play." The notes are a little sketchy about specific songs, but otherwise, this and its companion volume are a good compromise for fans who don't want to buy the complete Petula Clark reissue catalogs of the 1950s and 1960s.


Petula Clark -  The EP Collection Vol.2

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