on 11 April 2005
Before the world had Long Playing records, and Compact Disc albums, we had 10" albums, as Richard Harries correctly points out in the sleevenote of Petula's "Meet Me In Battersea Park" boxset. That set contains Petula's five 10" sets replicated in CD form. By the point of this 12" LP's release in 1957, two of those had already come out, and like the ones that were yet to come, they were compilations of previously released material. The original album, "You Are My Lucky Star" was the first time a young Pet (then 25, already a veteran, but long before 'Downtown') had gone into the studio especially to record an album.
The album title links in with the chosen theme for the LP. Twelve tracks, all originally performed in vintage Hollywood movies. There are pictures of the movie STAR's on the front cover. Can you identify them all? I certainly can't - I would have liked to know who they are...
A music press article in the sleevenote does tell us which movies the songs are from (may have been better as a simple list). The original LP has been digitally remastered superbly, with the original cover artwork. The tracks are all here in their original order, of course. However: where is the original album sleevenote? It is mentioned in the sleevenote, but not seen. And a very minor complaint is the picture used underneath the CD is of the 'Bluebird' single. That track is here, but wouldn't it have made more sense to give us a picture of this album's label?
Now, as for the music itself. I found it took several listens to really get into this album - and then you will really start to enjoy it. I was previously only familiar with Petula's singles of the era, and those were all contemporary pop songs - nothing like the American Songbook fare you are hearing here. You can really hear Pet's sense of fun recording the tracks coming through on the songs though, and the orchestration is top class (again, it'd be nice to have this information in the sleevenote!). I believe it is provided on most of the tracks by Wally Stott, who worked on a similar series of tracks with a young Shirley Bassey. Tony Osborne, a previous Pet collaborator, helps out too.
My two favourites on the album are probably 'It's Foolish But It's Fun' and 'Slumming On Park Avenue', but there are plenty of other greats, and as reviewer Peter D Harris says, you will recognise them. I was puzzled by 'I Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi' until I heard it and immediately recognised it as a track parodied on a cereal advert a few years ago, while 'Goodnight My Love' was recently heard by Shirley Temple on an advert.
'As Time Goes By' is another instantly recognisable classic. The rest of the movies have been largely forgotten - thankfully the songs live on. It's also worth noting that 'Alone' is NOT the same track as the Petula top 10 hit in the same year (very confusing!) - something collectors will be pleased to hear. The only track on the original album that was ever released on a single is 'I Wish I Knew', which you won't find anywhere else at the moment except on the boxset.
As Amazon say, the original album was a mere 12-track affair - not enough to fill a CD, and so it has been filled out with singles, EPs and other rare tracks. I like the way the compiler, Richard Harries, has chosen to make the tracks carry on with the theme established by the original LP tracks. They are mostly singles of the era. The ones released before this album, 'Fascinating Rhythm', 'Memories Are Made Of This' and 'A Million Stars Above' all show what an accomplished big band singer Petula already was - the first track in particular will blow you away if you have never heard it before. There are two country tracks included: 'Gonna Find Me A Bluebird' and 'Another Door Opens'. Not sure how they tie in with the vocal style of the rest of the tracks, but they do at least prove her versatility. Other great tracks from musicals Pet recorded at the time and released as singles are included, such as 'Long Before I Knew You' and 'Mama's Talkin' Soft'. 'If I Had My Way' is a track that needs mentioning, simply because of how brilliant it is. Three more tracks show this side of Petula being explored in the early 1960s: 'Something Missing' was a minor hit in 1961, and the b-side 'Isn't This A Lovely Day', an Irving Berlin composition, is included here. 'You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me', a well-known standard, was b-side to the contrasting 'Romeo'. Finally, we get an alternate take of 'Thank You', a single released in 1964. This seems to be more for the benefit of collectors than anything else, as it is a little out of era and it's the kind of track only collectors would be already familiar with. Something really Missing is the alternate take of 'I Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi' that was on the 1990 CD release of this album. There was enough room to put it on here, so why it isn't I don't know.
The sleevenote is the interesting story of how fanclub president Terry Young first became a fan - it's linked to this album. Not as informative as Richard Harries is on these releases, but Terry does a very good job too. The sleevenote is supplemented by lovely photos and record sleeves reproduced.
In conclusion: if you are a big fan of 'vintage' Petula Clark, and you like old showtunes, then I say you will definitely enjoy this. Happy listening!