Petula Clark’s 1974 concert at The Royal Albert Hall in London has been released on a new CD, so imagine my delight when I recently opened it up.
Being a “baby boomer” I am a self-professed musical snob who refuses to download music to a computer file and listen to talented singers on inadequate sound systems.
Having worked for years in the music business, I am also someone who respects and appreciates good packaging, especially if it involves a classic CD or vinyl album.
Given these parameters, Petula Clark: A Valentine’s Day Concert at The Royal Albert Hall is—without a doubt—one of the most deluxe and elaborate repackaging products I have seen in ages, and it truly deserves attention.
Recorded in its entirety on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 1974, ten of the songs from this memorable concert were compiled and released as the album Petula Clark Live in London.
It was a very popular vinyl release. However, as pleasing as it was, it left 23 other songs to languish somewhere in a dark storeroom for 46 years.
That was before David Hadzis a project manager and album restoration producer, came into the picture and conceived of a grand revisiting one of Petula’s most memorable performances.
And, grand it is!
The newly conceived Petula Clark: A Valentine’s Day Concert at The Royal Albert Hall is a two-CD set that comes packaged in a beautiful booklet with detailed liner notes, amazingly researched photos and a track-by-track analysis of all of the music.
Now logging in at over two hours of music, it is a virtual Petula Clark love fest.
As someone who first-hand remembers seeing Clark for the first time on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” singing “Downtown” in the 1960s, I am happy to hear this concert and its highly diverse repertoire of music remixed and restored in an album that sounds acoustically perfect.
In this performance Petula comes across as sincere, charming, and in clear full voice, that sets her off like a diamond in a prized setting.
The sound is pristine, the orchestra sounds lush, and Clark sings the hell out of every song, all of which makes this a real treat from beginning to end.
It rocks (“Without You”), it reminisces (“Yesterday Once More,”) and it presents two hours of prime Petula Clark singing her way through a travelogue of song.
Along the way she visits Detroit’s Motown (“You Are The Sunshine of My Life”), London (“London Is London”), France (“Une Historoire d’Amour”), Italy (“Mona Lisa”) and beyond.
Of course all of her greatest hits are here, sung completely and accompanied with full orchestra. They include “Downtown,” “This is My Song,” “Don’t Sleep In the Subway,” “Color My World,” and “I Know a Place.”
What is especially delightful to hear is Petula’s interpretation of several of the biggest hits of the early 1970s, including Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again Naturally” and “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.
The result is an awesomely beautiful album in a package that does justice to a talented and beloved singer captured in her prime.
If you are a devotee of Petula Clark’s music you will love this new 2020 release, and if you have never owned one of her albums, this will make you an instant fan.
Although Clark is mostly associated with the 1960s, she began her career during World War II on BBC radio. She first performed as a nine-year-old and charted her first single, “The Little Shoemaker” in 1954.
Most fans may not realize that Clark had a prolific movie career in the 1950s and has appeared in 30 films.
The English singer, born in 1937 in Surrey, is also proficient in French and many of her early songs, such as “Prends mon coeur”, “Sailor” (a UK No. 1), “Romeo” and “Chariot”.were recorded in that language.
Hits in German, Italian and Spanish followed.
In late 1964, Clark scored a breakout in the United States and began a four-year run as a chart-topping artist.
Many of her signature h its were written or co-written with Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent. Theey include her signature song “Downtown,” “I Know a Place,” “My Love,” “A Sign of the Times,” “I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love,” “Who Am I,” and “Colour My World.”
Now 87, Clark lives most of the year in Geneva, Switzerland, has a holiday chalet in the French Alps, where she likes to ski, and a pied-à-terre in London’s Chelsea.
Check out the video below.