Natural Love: The Scotti Brothers Recordings By Petula Clark

December 13, 2016

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Even Ed Sullivan liked Petula Clark and there weren’t many 1960’s musicians that appealed to Ed. They were mostly vehicles to increase his television ratings.

Petula was a by-product of the British Invasion. While it was dominated by testosterone fueled male rock bands, she was a thirtyish female who produced a string of upbeat pop hits. Songs such as “Downtown,” “I Know A Place,” “I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love,” and “My Love” were bright and polished and made AM radio airplay of the day a little more listenable.

After the big hits ran out at the end of the decade, she recorded for a number of labels. One of her shortest label stops was during 1981-1982 when she was signed to Scotti Brothers. Her entire American output was four singles. Real Gone music has now gathered those eight sides with an English only single release plus two outtakes. The result is a fairly short 11 track album titled Natural Love: The Scotti Brothers Recordings.

The best song is “City Of Dreams,” which is the closest to her 1960’s hits. The lyrics are more dramatic than her earlier material but the production gives it a smooth pop feel. 1982’s single “Natural Love” reached number 66 on the pop charts and was her final chart single. It is an inoffensive piece of pop fluff. The most adventurous track is the classic country tune “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain.” She toyed with country music during the late 1970’s and this is a leftover from those experiments.

Clark is now approaching her mid-80’s and continues to record and perform. Her material for the Scotti Brothers label has long been scattered and out of print so Natural Love: The Scotti Brothers Recordings fills in some gaps in her available catalogue of music. Still this is a release for hardcore Clark fans. If you want an introduction to her music, there are a number of releases from her big hit Warner Brothers years.


My Love By Petula Clark

October 16, 2016

When “My Love” by Petula Clark topped the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Chart on February 5, 1966, for the first of two weeks, she became the first British female to have two number one hits.

She was not a flash in the pan. Her career began as a child singer during the second world war. It would be 22 years before she had her first American hit; “Downtown” in 1965. That song would be the first of 15 consecutive top 40 tunes.

Now in her 80’s, she is still performing.


Downtown By Petula Clark

July 15, 2015

Petula Clark was an English child star during the second World War. She had her own radio show that was broadcast over 500 times. She issued her first record in 1949 and during the 1950’s became a star in Europe.

At the age of 32 she seemed an unlikely candidate for stardom in the United States, especially in the midst of the of the British Invasion.

Producer/songwriter Tony Hatch wrote “Downtown” for Clark and it was recorded in English for release in the USA. It broke into the top 100 at number 87 0n December 19, 1964. Five weeks later on January 23, 1965, it was the number one song in the United States, where it remained for two weeks.

During the 1960’s she would place 19 singles on the Pop Chart. Her career is still going strong in her 80’s and “Downtown” continues to be part of her act.

 


I Know A Place 45 by Petula Clark

March 28, 2011

Petula Clark was in her early 30’s before she had her first hit in the United States. “Downtown” would top the American singles charts for two weeks weeks during early 1965.

If at first you succeed, then go to the well again. She released “I Know A Place” on March 20, 1965, and it would reach number three. It was the same type of up-tempo pop as “Downtown.” It had a catchy melody and the song stayed with you. It was perfect for AM radio in the United States at the time.

“I know A Place” would cementt her status as a female superdstar of the 1960’s. She would have 19 chart hits before the decade ended.

Her sixties material, including “I Know A Place,” remains an enjoyable listening experience nearly 50 years later.


My Love 45 by Petula Clark

February 25, 2011

Petula Clark was in her early 30’s when she had her first hit in The United States. She would go on to have 15 top 40 hits betwwen 1964-1968.

“My Love” was released Christmas day, 1965. It would become her second number one hit, topping the American charts for two weeks. It was typical of her single releases at the time as it was well produced up-tempo pop.

She was a rare female artist to have multiple hits during The Beatles era. Now in her late 70’s, she still regularly appears in concert.


Downtown 45 by Petula Clark

October 17, 2009

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Petula Clark was a star long before her first American hit at the age of 32. She performed on British radio at age nine and had her on show at eleven. She appeared in over twenty English movies between 1944-1957.

Her first song to reach the American charts made her a star as “Downtown” would spend two weeks at number one during December of 1964. It was a catchy, mid-tempo pop tune that feautured her ringing voice on the chorus.

Petula Clark was a different type of British artist. She was a grown up woman and her pop sound served as a counterpoint to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, and a host of others who were domininating the American charts at the time.

She would go on to issue a series of memorable hits during the next few years and would ultimately place 22 songs on the charts during her career. “Downtown” was her first and would prove the most memorable.


Open Your Heart by Petula Clark

May 29, 2009

Petula Clark was a woman in her mid-thirties when she had such hits as “Downtown,” “I Know A Place,” “My Love,” and “Don’t Sleep In The Subway,” as part of the British musical invasion of the United States in the 1960s. She had been a child star in England during the 1940s and had had a number of hits in Europe prior to becoming popular in America but her sharing the charts with the likes of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and The Rolling Stones was unique in both sound and appearance.

The major hits may have dried up in the 1970s but she has continued to record material down to the present day. Open Your Heart is her new 2009 CD release. It is a 21 track collection of love songs and ballads that have been gathered from the 1970s to the 1990s and combined with some previously unreleased material. While none of her recognizable up-tempo hits are included, it is still an excellent compilation and sure to please new and old fans alike.

This release was well thought out. While the material is all love songs; the tempos and styles vary which keeps it interesting. In addition five of Clark’s own compositions are included. Many of the older tracks have been cleaned as the sound is crystal clear.

There were a number of performances that stood out for me. I remembered her version of “The Wedding Song” from 1972. This song has probably been recorded hundreds of times yet this version remains one of the best. Her cover of the Queen song, “These Are The Days Of Our Lives,” is a poignant look back at love and life. Recorded when she had just turned seventy it becomes a personal statement. “C’est Ca, Ma Chanson” is performed in both French and English and is sung in a sultry lower register. “Walking On Air” has a little bite as her vocal runs counterpoint to the brass backing.

Perhaps the most unique track was her own 1975 composition, “Super Loving Lady.” It contains brass, guitars and an almost New Orleans sound. It reminds me of Dusty Springfield and is about as rocking as Petula Clark gets.

Open Your Heart all adds up to a fine addition to Petula Clark’s extensive catalogue of music. It shows that she produced a lot of superior material after her sixties run of hits ended. If you are partial to this type of pop music, then this album is recommended as a definite buy.


Portrait Of Petula Clark (DVD) by Petula Clark

May 29, 2009

Petula Clark was one of the more unique artists of the British Invasion of The United States in the sixties. She was a solo performer, she was female, and she was in her mid-thirties when she had such hits as “Downtown”, “I Know A Place,” “My Love,” “I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love,” and many more. While the hits slowed down in the seventies and stopped in the eighties, she continued to perform in movies, on stage, and as a Vegas and theater act. Now in her late 70s she continues to tour and perform.

The Infinity Entertainment Group has issued a DVD of her 1969 NBC Special. The show is dated but serves as an interesting look into network television of the late sixties. Artists such as Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and hundreds more cutting edge rock groups were churning out some of the most creative music in history, but it was typical of the networks to turn to artists like Clark for television specials.

Portrait Of Petula Clark will probably appeal to her fans but not convert many new ones. In some ways it tries to change her from a pop singer to a song and dance entertainer. Her forays into show tunes and easy listening songs play away from her strengths. Just by the fact that Andy Williams is one of the guest stars should provide a hint as to the content.

The show is divided into segments representing the cities of Paris, London, Geneva, New York, and Los Angeles. She dances in a Paris saloon with French singer Sacha Distel, goes on a picnic with Andy Williams, performs with British actor of the day Ron Moody, and sings to her children which actually was the most entertaining segment. She performs such songs as “This Girl’s In Love With You,” “My Funny Valentine,” “When I Was A Child,” and “You and I” from her starring role in the movie Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Her duet with Andy Williams on the Roger Miller tune “You Can’t Rollerskate In A Buffalo Heard” is one for the ages. Clark has an excellent voice and deserved better material.

After 55 minutes of traveling from city to city and watching one production after another, the special ended with Clark just simply singing three songs. I would have preferred a full 65 minutes of this type of performance. “I Know A Place” and “My Love” being sung by Petula Clark is the way I like to remember her. Sandwiched in the middle was another performance from Goodbye, Mr. Chips which was equally excellent.

I don’t know how many times I will revisit a Portrait Of Petula Clark but it was a nice look into a simpler time of television.