Petula Clark

I Love to Sing: Pye 35th Anniversary

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This 78-song collection, more than 200 minutes long, is one of many Petula Clark compilations on the market, but this one is unusual in its scope and structure. Disc One, subtitled "Imagination," is devoted principally to her early-'60s repertory and presents most of its songs in stereo for the first time. Additionally, the first eight songs on the disc are taken from In Other Words, the surprisingly successful 1962 attempt to record Clark doing late-night jazz; the notes mention the presence of "notable musicians" but fail to name them. What cannot be argued with are the songs themselves, which show Clark in a sultrier and more subtle presentation than most of us are accustomed to. Much of the rest are the first stereo appearances of songs originally released on singles. Disc Two, subtitled "Look at Mine" and covering territory from 1961-1971, is a kind of mega-greatest hits album devoted to Clark's chart singles, which between them sold somewhere around ten million copies in the English-speaking world alone. Disc Three, entitled "Conversations With the Wind," is practically a Bear Family disc, made up of tracks that went unreleased except for appearances in small markets and the songs from the "lost" final album that Clark cut with Tony Hatch, along with the English-language versions of songs that Clark had previously issued only in French, German, and Italian. The material on this disc includes a dozen songs that are as hauntingly beautiful as anything Clark ever released; the rest, with a handful of exceptions, is up to the standard of any of her albums of the middle/late '60s. The care devoted to the programming of the disc has not been matched by the annotation, which is not very well structured or even terribly informative. It misses being definitive for this reason, as well as the absence of various album tracks that represent Clark's music (a fourth disc would certainly have been necessary).