Petula Clark's first appearance at the Olympia in Paris in the late 1950s resulted in two long-term relationships - marriage to producer Claude Woolf and a love affair with the French record-buying public that eclipsed their admiration for Edith Piaf and, as evidenced by the audience reaction heard during this concert recorded in September 2003, continues to this day.
This collection includes contributions from every phase of Clark's sixty-five year career - the French pop tunes from composer Serge Gainsbourg, the mid- to late-60s international hits ("Downtown," "I Know a Place," "This is My Song," "Kiss Me Goodbye," "Don't Sleep in the Subway," "I Couldn't Live Without Your Love"), selections from her films "Finian's Rainbow" and "Goodbye, Mr. Chips," and the stage productions in which she starred - "Blood Brothers" and "Sunset Boulevard" - and one in which she didn't - a rousing rendition of "Vivre" from "Notre Dame de Paris."
The CD opens and closes with two compositions by Clark herself - "I'm Not Afraid," in which she explains how singing became a form of self-expression that overcame her shyness, and a bonus track - a studio recording of "Starting All Over Again," inspired by the events of 9/11.
Kenny Clayton, her longtime musical director, deserves special mention for his vibrant arrangements, especially those that infuse the old hits with exciting new life.
Clark's voice is as strong and rich as it was forty years ago, when "Downtown" first hit pop charts worldwide - her enunciation is so perfect you can hear her dot her "i"s and cross her "t"s, and she not only hits all the high notes, but holds them for several measures as well. It's obvious that her dynamic performance here thoroughly captivated the sell-out Olympia crowd, as it will anyone who invests in this recording of that magical night.