JASMINE - WE LOVE YOU! STUPENDOUS JOB!
W. Budris | Rosedale, NY | 03/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like the previous review, this new issue of Petula Clark's earliest recordings (1949-1955), along with a few rarities from when she was with the Rank Organization as a film actress, is a treasure trove. Best sound quality I've ever heard on these tracks. Puts the earlier Polygon Years releases to shame. Being from America, I was not aware of these recordings until I started to collect Petula in the mid-70s. Never having a complete set, I got familiar with a lot of it, but mainly dismissed it because it was very Pre-Downtown and didn't interest me. However, it has grown on me over the years, and this ultimate release brings forth 61 tracks of light-hearted bliss. You will not be disappointed with this set.
I am now looking forward to Jasmine's new double sets on Eydie Gorme and Steve Lawrence's early solo recordings prior to their marriage. If they sound as good as these Petula tracks, should be absolute heaven."
It had to be ... Petula
david moncur | Dundee, Angus, Scotland | 02/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If, like me, you are not really a fan of Petula's earliest work, and therefore never really listenend to the rather scratchy 78s, and album and cd tracks that have been made available, then I suggest you buy this cd, and give these 60+ songs a listen. The sound quality is superb. This is what I call remastering. There is virtually no background noise on these tracks which gives you the chance to listen to Petula's voice and the orchestrations. This is not the Petula of Ya Ya Twist or Romeo, not the swinging 60s chick, nor the chic of the sophisticated Petula of Las Vegas of the 70s, not the Petula of Blood brothers and Norma Desmond fame in the 90s, nor is it the magnificent concert-giving Petula of today, but it is a signpost to the greatness that was to come. The quality of the sound means that you can hear the intonations, the soul, the jazz in Pet's voice which were to make her the international superstar that she became. As a life long fan, I have to say that I'm thrilled to have found 60 new Petula Clark tracks, that I had previously dismissed as pretty unlistenable....
A very nice collection
Bruce R. Gilson | Wheaton, MD United States | 11/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Up until about 4 years ago, like most Americans, my only familiarity with Petula Clark was with her post-1964 work, when she became world-famous. About that time, I came into regular correspondence with a then teen-age Briton who liked much of the same 1950s popular music I did, but also was very knowledgable about a lot of the popular music of Britain of the same era, and I have remained in contact with him to the extent that by now I consider him a personal friend, who has exposed me to a lot of British '50s popular music, including some of the tracks in this CD set. And I need to state, by way of disclosure, that he was also very much involved with the production of this CD set, including having written the liner notes. This being said, it is my objective opinion, not colored by my friendship, that this was a great job.
Some of the songs in the set will be very well known to Americans, as they were also done in the 1950s by American artists or are old standards like "You Go to My Head." Others will be totally unfamiliar, and in fact some are so characteristically British that it is hard to contemplate their ever being recorded by Americans or played much in the US. One thing that will certainly be unfamiliar to most Americans is Petula's voice and style, which changed so much between 1955 (the latest recordings in the set) and 1964 (when she made "Downtown," her first hit that charted in the USA) that one can hardly believe they are the same singer. But I'd heard some of Petula's 1950s work before I got this CD set (thanks to my friend mentioned above) so I was not surprised. I suspect that most people hearing this CD for the first time will be, however. Certainly, if you buy this album expecting the Petula Clark sound you know from "Downtown" and subsequent hits, you will not get it. If you like the '50s sound of the other artists whose albums I've reviewed, however, like Toni Arden, Eileen Barton, and more famous names like Rosemary Clooney and such, this earlier Petula Clark will please you. In short, do not let your like or dislike for the post-1964 Petula Clark govern your decision to buy this set or not. The two Petula Clark sounds are as different as Joni James and Joni Mitchell; you'd never believe they were the same singer! On the other hand, if you like THIS Petula Clark, you might want to get "With All My Heart: Anthology" which I have earlier reviewed; this slightly later group of her recordings sounds similar.
Actually, besides the familiar and unfamiliar songs, two need to be characterized as "semi-familiar." One, "May Kway," is an adaptation of a Chinese song, which, under the title "Rose, Rose, I Love You," was provided with a different set of English lyrics than the ones here and became a hit for Frankie Laine in the US. Strangely, this set of lyrics also includes the phrase "Rose, Rose, I Love You," while Frankie Laine's lyric includes the phrase "make way," which sounds a lot like "May Kway"! The second semi-familiar song is one whose melody would probably be familiar only if you happen to be Jewish, as I am. "You're the Sweetest in the Land," strangely, takes its melody from a traditional Chanukah song, "Maoz Tsur."
This collection is billed as "The Complete Early Singles" and the word "complete" was taken quite seriously. Not only singles released commercially in the United Kingdom, but singles released only in Australia and a few other countries are included, as well as some promotional singles (not sold commercially) made by the movie company for which Petula Clark worked, are included. A few tracks are not as high in audio quality as one might prefer, but given the necessity of making up this collection from over-50-year-old 78-rpm records, this is hardly unexpected, and rather one has to be surprised at how good most of them are. The people involved in the remastering of this set of recordings must be commended on the job they have done. The singles are organized chronologically, which I believe (as, obviously, does my friend mentioned above) is the right way to do it, as you can hear her development over the years.
The first CD contains 28 songs, nine of which I consider particularly good (which doesn't mean the other 19 are bad, however): "House in the Sky" (her first commercially released single, recorded before her 17th birthday, showing Petula Clark to be a precocious professional singer), "I'll Always Love You" (recorded only one month later), "You Go to My Head" (a standard which she sings outstandingly well, especially considering her youth), "Out of a Clear Blue Sky," "Blossoms on the Bough" (described in the liner notes as a favorite of hers among the songs she recorded in that era), "You're the Sweetest in the Land" (as I mentioned earlier, with its melody taken from "Maoz Tsur"), "Beloved Be Faithful," "Tennessee Waltz" (sounding quite different from Patti Page's version, but quite good!), and "That's How a Love Song Is Born."
The second contains 33 songs, and I similarly wish to recommend a number of them as particularly good: "Tell Me Truly," "It Had to Be You" (another standard, like "You Go to My Head," which I think she handles very well), "Anytime is Tea Time Now" (the liner notes say this number was used as a tea commercial in Britain!), "My Love Is a Wanderer," "Take Care of Yourself," "Poppa Piccolino" (apparently someone else had the hit version of this song in the UK, but this one is nice anyway), "The Little Shoemaker" (sung purely in English, though the original was in French and the American hit version was partly in Italian; I prefer the Gaylords' version, but this is a close second!), "A Long Way to Go," "Smile" (quite different from Nat Cole's version of the song, but I still think it's very good), "Majorca," "Romance in Rome," and "The Pendulum Song." There is one track I don't particularly like: "Fascinating Rhythm," which I think she sings at too fast a tempo (though I've heard Rosemary Clooney sing it at an even faster tempo!) and has a bit of a roughness in her voice that I don't like (not as much roughness as she developed by the 1960s, however).
There is quite a variety of song types in this set, from romantic ballads to novelty types like "Clancy Lowered the Boom" and "Talky Talky Talky." Like Rosemary Clooney in the US, she was obviously felt by her record company to be very good at novelty songs (including a few sung in a fake dialect), but since in this case the record company was controlled by her father, she obviously concurred in this, and in fact sounds quite happy doing them. And I also think she sounds pretty good in those numbers.