Live at the Copacabana

Petula Clark

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Live at the Copacabana Review

by Bruce Eder

This live album was recorded in New York during 1966 and then forgotten in the midst of the rush to capitalize on Clark's late 1966 British hit "This Is My Song." It lay in the vaults for 27 years, until it was found and released by Sequel Records. At the time of the performance, Clark was at the peak of her chart presence, with a pair of number-one American hits and two Grammy Awards behind her (and more to follow). She sounds extraordinary -- not only in great voice, but fine form, as she gently vamps her way through standards like "Our Love Is Here to Stay" and "Come Rain or Come Shine" amid her own hits, including "My Love" and "I Know a Place," the latter getting perhaps its definitive performance on this album. Clark has great fun with "Typically English" (from Stop The World, I Want to Get Off), being a living representative of the pop cultural phenomenon referred to in the lyrics, the English image transformed from stodgy to mod. She seems to be having the time of her life performing "Petula," her own autobiographical song, as part of a medley that includes "Hello Dolly" and "Call Me." The emphasis of the show, as captured here, is somewhat surprising, downplaying many of Clark's hits (most notably "Downtown," which she doesn't perform) in favor of a more diverse program of pop standards, all imbued with her personality in the performance. It's probably closer to what Clark was really about than any collection of her hits from the period, but one can also understand why the addition of a new contemporary hit in the form of "This Is My Song," and the need to release an album built around it, compelled the record company to shunt this release aside -- careers progressed fast in those days and except for greatest-hits albums, capitalizing on today's successes were more important than yesterday's, particularly when an artist kept spinning them out with the consistency that Clark did.

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