Petula Clark – Downtown

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Artist:Petula Clark
Genre: Pop
Title: Downtown
Released: 1965
Label:Warner Bros
Format: Vinyl
Producer:Tony Hatch

From Wikipedia: Petula Sally Olwen Clark, CBE (born 15 November 1932) is an English singer, actress and composer whose career has spanned seven decades.
Clark’s professional career began as an entertainer on BBC Radio during World War II. During the 1950s she started recording in French and having international success in both French and English, with such songs as “The Little Shoemaker”, “Baby Lover”, “With All My Heart” and “Prends Mon Cœur”. During the 1960s she became known globally for her popular upbeat hits, including “Downtown”, “I Know a Place”, “My Love”, “A Sign of the Times”, “I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love”, “Colour My World”, “This Is My Song” and “Don’t Sleep in the Subway”. The timing and popularity of these songs caused Clark to be dubbed the First Lady of the British Invasion. She has sold more than 68 million records throughout her career.

International fame – the “Downtown” era
By 1964 Clark’s British recording career was foundering. The composer-arranger Tony Hatch, who had been assisting her with her work for Vogue Records in France and Pye Records in the UK, flew to her home in Paris with new song material he hoped would interest her, but she found none of it appealing. Desperate, he played for her a few chords of an incomplete song that had been inspired by his recent first trip to New York City, which he suggested might be offered to the Drifters. Upon hearing the melody, Clark told him that if he could write lyrics as good as the melody, she wanted to record the tune as her next single. Thus “Downtown” came into being.
Neither Clark, who was performing in Canada when the song first received major air-play, nor Hatch realized the impact the song would have on their respective careers. Released in four separate languages in late 1964, “Downtown” was a success in the UK, France (in both the English and the French versions), the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Italy and Rhodesia, Japan and India. During a visit to London, Warner Bros. executive Joe Smith heard it and acquired the rights for the United States. “Downtown” went to No. 1 on the American charts in January 1965, and 3 million copies were sold in America.
“Downtown” was the first of 15 consecutive Top 40 hits Clark achieved in the United States, including “I Know a Place,” “My Love” (her second U.S. No. 1 hit), “A Sign of the Times,” “I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love,” “This Is My Song” (from the Charles Chaplin film A Countess from Hong Kong) and “Don’t Sleep in the Subway.” The American recording industry honored her with Grammy Awards for “Best Rock & Roll Recording of 1964” for “Downtown” and for “Best Contemporary (R&R) Vocal Performance of 1965 – Female” for “I Know a Place.” In 2004, her recording of “Downtown” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petula_Clark
Official website: http://www.petulaclark.net/home.php

Downtown is an album by Petula Clark (her first album licensed to Warner Brothers Records) following the success of her single of the same title. The album’s tracks were all produced, arranged and conducted by Tony Hatch and were recorded at the Pye Studios in Marble Arch with the session personnel including drummer Bobby Graham, guitarist Big Jim Sullivan and the Breakaways vocal group; the “Downtown” track included guitarists Vic Flick and Jimmy Page (Yes, that Jimmy Page!) in addition to Sullivan. Most of the album’s tracks pre-dated the title cut, with almost all of the sides Hatch had produced from their inaugural collaboration: the 1963 single “Let Me Tell You Baby”, being included.

Side One:
True Love Never Runs Smooth – Written by Hal David (lyrics) and Burt Bachrach (music). What is interesting is that it doesn’t sound like a Burt Bachrach song. In fact, it sounds like a full orchestra is present and even has an element of what sounds like traditional Italian music such as one would find in Venice.
Baby It’s Me – The song writing credits say Mark Anthony, but that is really a pseudonym for Tony Hatch. This is a typical period up tempo song
Now That You’ve Gone – Written by Petula Clark and Hubert Ballay. Ironically, this song sounds more like the Burt Bachrach style than the first track credited to him. I don’t know that Petula’s voice was well suited for this song, but it is one of my favorites on the LP
Tell Me – Written by Petula Clark and Tony Hatch – Petula focuses in her lower octaves on this piece. There’s a Bachrach sounding organ in the background. This is another of my favorites from this LP.
Crying Through A Sleepless Night – Written by Tony Hatch, in my opinion there’s not much to write home about on this one.
In Love – Written by Harvey Fuqua and Bobby Lester and first recorded in 1955 by the Moonglows. This is an interesting song, it has a blues feel to it and Pet makes her voice match the rhythmic time pattern. The guitar solo is also kind of unique, I’m wondering if it’s Jimmy Page doing the duties on this one? There is nothing that says anything about it.

Side Two:
Music – Written by Tony Hatch, This is a slower tempo song and just a pleasant listen.
Be Good To Me – Written by Tony Hatch and Petula Clark. This song sounds made for her, it’s up tempo, but in my opinion, it’s nothing special.
This Is Goodbye – Written by Tony Hatch, Petula Clark & Georges Aber. This song has that reverb sound as was typical for the time. I like the structure and it fits her voice’s lower octaves well. This is another of my favorites on the LP
Let Me Tell You – Written by Tony Hatch, the “shaka doo wahs” in back make this song the most annoying one on the LP. There is nothing great about it.
You Belong To Me – Written by Pee Wee King, Redd Stewart & Shilton Price.
Downtown – You’ve been waiting to get to this title track, haven’t you, well, we have arrived. Written by Tony Hatch. Come on, it’s “Downtown”, who doesn’t like this song?!

MUSIC:5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars
SOUND: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars

Original version of Downtown

Some songs never lose popularity or magic. Here’s Petula in 2013:

 

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