Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Petula Clark - Downtown - 1964

I got the new Adele record recently and I simply loved it. Do check it out if you haven't already. I mention that because when doing some reading on Adele, one writer compared her to Dusty Springfield. Now I know that this isn't Dusty, but I often think of Petula Clark when I think of Dusty Springfield. I think it is because they are both female English pop singers from the same era. So I recently picked up this Petula Clark record and digitized it. While listening to it I thought sharing this record might be a good way to celebrate the new Adele record. I probably won't share it for long, because it is Warner Brothers and I'm sure this is readily available somewhere, though I can't find any version of the CD on amazon. Still, I bet the songs are on various compilations.

This record was the first American release for Petula. Before hitting with the single "Downtown" in the States, Petula was already a hit in her home country. She had been performing since she was a child on both radio and TV. She began recording pop records in her teens in the 50's. The single "Downtown" was recorded in 3 languages other than English and was a hit in a whole slew of other countries when Joe Smith from Warner heard it and acquired the rights for America. The song went to number one on the billboard charts. Following the success of that song, this album was released on Warner Brothers in the US.

The album is full of well produced pop tunes mostly on the topic of love, lost love, etc. "True Love Never Runs Smooth" is a great opener. Sounds like something right out of tin pan alley. Reminds me of something out of the Bacharach/David writing room. The same room that produced "Wishin' and Hopin'" by Dusty Springfield the same year.

"Baby It's Me" is an up beat number. Petula's voice and the song itself reminds me of something from She and Him, the Zoey Deschenel project. This video below should give you an idea of what I'm talking about. Good 60's pop.

Track 3 is "Now That You've Gone". My rip isn't very good. It is the most muffled of all the tracks. It's not too bad of a tragedy, because it's not my favorite track.

"Tell Me (That It's Love) has that good 60's almost surf guitar thing going. Reminds me a little of perhaps The Raveonettes. Okay, maybe that is a stretch. Just the opening guitar put me in a Raveonettes mindset.

"Crying Through A Sleepless Night" sounds like something from the previous decade. It sounds a little more hit parade. It even has a sort of faux exotic sound to it. I can't put my finger on it exactly, but it sounds like it is trying to make reference to a middle east vibe, while also having a cowboy Western vibe with a harmonica or something like that. It is interesting. It has a studio choir behind it which I think is what gives me the hit parade vibe. Sounds maybe a little more Doris Day, than something from the 60's.

"In Love" gets us back into the decade with this bluesy number. This is a great track, showing Pet's soulful side. This is a good candidate for a Valentine mix for sure.

"Music" - Not great, but not bad.

"Be Good To Me" - Okay. Would fit in a Lesley Gore set easily.

"This Is Goodbye" and "Let Me Tell You" also would be a good Lesley Gore track. Solid song.

"You Belong To Me" is a great song to begin with and Petula really does a bang up job with it. This song will get stuck in your head. Reminds me of "She's Got You" by Patsy Cline.

And then the record closes with the big hit "Downtown". Such a solid song. I love a song like this that start off with just some simple piano chords and they are just perfect. They set the mood and when you hear them, you instantly know the song. If you don't know it, you probably are thinking, "oh I know this. What is this?". Then after that first verse around 25 seconds in that wall of sound thing kicks in, at least I think it qualifies as wall of sound and the song lifts to a whole new level. By now you are just completely sucked in and helpless to the song. You have to listen to the end and like any really good pop tune, that won't be long. Before you know it 3 minutes is up and the bliss is over. Time to put a dime in the jukebox and cue it up again.

So that's the record. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Get it here.

01 True Love Never Runs Smooth
02 Baby It's Me
03 Now That You've Gone
04 Tell Me (That It's Love)
05 Crying Through A Sleepless Night
06 In Love
07 Music
08 Be Good To Me
09 This Is Goodbye
10 Let Me Tell You
11 You Belong To Me
12 Downtown

Probably my first exposure to the track "Downtown" was through the B52's. Check it out below.

Here is a link to a great B52's youtube clip that I can't embed. They are all so young and skinny in this clip.

And here is some more awesomeness from Athens, Georgia.

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