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Live At the Paris Olympia

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Album Review

In a career dating back to the early 1940s, Petula Clark has succeeded in various aspects of show business in various countries, and many are reflected in this concert recording from Paris, made when she was 70 (but sounding at least 20-years-younger). Beginning as a child star on radio in the U.K., she branched out into television and films in the 1950s as a juvenile, then moved to France and became a French pop star in the late '50s and early '60s. In 1964, she remade herself with the help of songwriter/producer Tony Hatch, and scored a series of British and American hits over the next few years, starting with "Downtown," the period for which she is best-known in the U.S. By the late '60s, she had moved back into film with Finian's Rainbow and Goodbye, Mr. Chips, and she later established herself in the musical theater with appearances in such shows as Sunset Boulevard and Blood Brothers. She addresses much of this history in concert, explaining herself in French (with an English translation provided in the CD booklet) before reprising some of her French hits, which in several cases turn out to be familiar to American listeners ("Prends Mon Coeur" is the country and pop standard "[Now and Then There's] A Fool Such as I"; "Ya-Ya Twist" is Lee Dorsey's 1961 hit "Ya Ya," and "Chariot," which was originally a French song , was transformed into Little Peggy March's 1963 hit "I Will Follow Him"). She also sings many of her transatlantic pop hits of the '60s and songs from her films and shows. The performances are almost uniformly impressive. (An exception is her rendition of "With One Look" from Sunset Boulevard, which is marred by what she must think of as an American accent. It doesn't sound like any known American accent, it just sounds odd.) Clark sings pop, rock, and show tunes equally well, and she has the gift of great song interpreters to make even mediocre material sound good, notably "Tell Me It's Not True" from Blood Brothers. There is also a video version of this concert released simultaneously on DVD, but the two versions differ in content. The DVD skips the medley of French hits, but includes a few other songs. The CD concludes with a studio recording of "Starting All Over Again" not heard on the DVD.


Born: November 15, 1932 in Epsom, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The most commercially successful female singer in British chart history, Petula Clark was born November 15, 1932 in Epsom, England. Trained to sing by her soprano mother, Clark embarked on a stage career at the age of seven; soon she was a fixture on British radio programs, and began hosting her own regular show, Pet's Parlour -- a series spotlighting patriotic songs designed to boost the morale of wartime audiences -- at the tender age of 11. After entertaining British troops alongside fellow...
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