Petula Clark

Supersounds from the Superstar

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The slightly clunky title attached to this compilation obscures the fact it's actually a reissue of Petula Clark's Greatest Hits, Vol. 1, Warner Bros.' 1968 "Best Of" package released when she was one of the label's biggest acts, though for this edition Wounded Bird has not only changed the name but tacked on three additional tracks. In its original form, this collection put the focus squarely on the tunes Tony Hatch wrote and produced for Clark (the only song not penned by Hatch is Clark's own "Two Rivers"), and while this covers a rather brief period in a long and remarkably successful career, there's no arguing that Clark and Hatch brought out the best in one another. Hatch built crisp but bombastic arrangements for Clark that sounded like "little symphonies" in the manner of Phil Spector, but without Spector's pronounced degree of eccentricity and with a dramatic sweep that suggested the influence of the musical theater; Clark's voice was strong enough to stand tall alongside Hatch's studio orchestra, but light enough to maintain a breezy, feminine quality that added greatly to her charm. These sides are marvelous pop confections that certainly aren't rock, but show the canny influence of the hipper sounds of their day, and Clark and Hatch were both talented and professional enough to merge art and commerce with remarkable skill and savvy. This reissue adds three more songs from this era of Clark's career -- "Don't Sleep in the Subway," "Kiss Me Goodbye" and "This Is My Song" -- and they kick up the value of this set a notch or two. What's more, the mastering makes this CD particularly attractive -- for the first few years of the compact disc era, it was a real challenge finding a good-sounding Petula Clark CD, especially in the United States; Wounded Bird has filled that need and then some, the songs here (all in their best stereo incarnations) possessing a deep, rich orchestral sound that gives full play to the rhythm section but also leaves room for elements such as the sitar-like sound on "Color My World" and the electric guitar competing with the brass on "My Love," and the discreet separation of Clark's lead and the accompanying backing vocals. Supersounds from the Superstar is hardly a definitive Petula Clark collection, but if you're looking for a set of her biggest North American hits, this package will do nicely.

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