I have a new CD in my collection that I'm going absolutely ga-ga over. No, it's not some post-hardcore band from the mid-'90s, an orchestral pop band from Canada or a punk band. It's The Ultimate Petula Clark. Yes, Petula Clark, the woman behind such hits as "Downtown," "My Love" and "I Know a Place," is getting more time in my CD player than others.
I don't know if it's because of hearing songs like "Don't Give Up" and "I Know a Place" on the radio, the Seinfeld episode in which George tries to decode a boss's assignment based on the lyrics to "Downtown," or going to the Smoke and the Lollipop Shoppe get-togethers that have kept Ms. Clark's music around me, but all of these have been factors. Having all the great tracks on one digitally remastered CD is a joy and it makes me think about why I like them so much.
Essentially the material found on The Ultimate Petula Clark is energized, wall of sound rock with an orchestra. Definitely not the kind of Top 40 you hear these days but it's a great snapshot of the way things used to be. After hearing Clark's version of "You're the One," I think her version is as good as the Vogues version. There is something so sweet about her voice and the words that are coming out of her mouth. Credit must go to Terry Hatch, producer and co-songwriter on many of her hits, for the golden sounds (I wonder what else this guy did).
I don't know if you could credit Petula Clark's music as an influence on today's orchestral pop (sometimes called, "ork-pop") bands like the Polyphonic Spree, Head of Femur and Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, but I find this stuff as relevant today.