Petula Clark

Polygon Years, Vol. 1 (Tell Me Truly)

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To much of the British public, the 27 songs on this CD are part of Petula Clark's forgotten early years, as a teenager during the years 1950-1952, while for Americans, who never heard her records until the end of the 1950s, they're utterly unknown. The music rises out of the mists of the late '40s, the 17-year-old Clark intoning like an American pop singer at least ten years older than that (even as her breasts were being bound up and her hair deliberately styled downward to prevent photos from showing any hint of her maturation), singing with a winsome maturity, with the clarity of a bell learning how to ring, backed by an American-style pop chorus and orchestra. The earliest sides on this CD never even came out in England -- they were licensed by the fledgling Polygon label to companies in Australia and Denmark while Polygon's English operation was being set up. The eerie thing about this material, other than showing off Clark singing in a musical style that's at least a decade removed from anything that Americans ever knew about her, is the transformation of her voice -- she takes on a pleasing sassiness on "Silver Dollar," or an impish quality on "Talky Talky Talky" (the latter an annoying novelty number), then brassy on "Who Spilt Coffee on the Carpet" and sliding back into a bouncy, girlish quality on "You're My True Love." By the later sides, Clark's intonation and diction have settled down into a mature, flexible presentation that set the stage for her conquest of the charts in England. The sound is a bit uneven on this volume -- many of the Polygon masters, which would have been on wax anyway, were destroyed or lost after the company was sold to Pye/Nixa in late 1955, and the songs here are drawn from original 78s. They're generally very clean but lack clarity and sharpness, even from material going back this far. On the other hand, under ideal conditions, most recordings never made it onto LP, much less CD before this, so one should just be glad it's here. The notes by Richard Harries are excellent, and this set, though lacking the intrinsic musical fascination of the Vol. 2 disc, offers a rare glimpse at the earliest years of Clark's career and roots.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:39
3 2:39
4 3:01
5 2:52
10 3:00
11 2:37
12 2:57
14 3:07
16 3:06
feat: Jimmy Young
feat: Jimmy Young
20 3:00
21 2:30
22 3:13
23 3:08
24 2:54
25 2:12
26 2:18
blue highlight denotes track pick