Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Petula Clark

I am absolutely astonished, and I owe the lady a big, BIG apology!
A few months ago, feelings were running high in parts of Italy when they were about to re-open the enquiry into Luigi Tenco's death. I, along with around 250,000 others who campaigned for this, have never believed that Tenco killed himself. The sideboard incident, for instance.
Pet Clark had recently received some stick--not least of all from me--for her poor interpretations of Tenco and another Italian icon, Sergio Endrigo. Then she went on Patrick Sebastien's French television show and murdered 'Downtown', receiving so many complaints that the next time she sang it, she mimed to the 1965 recording!
I guess we all have our off-days. Not so long ago, Pet turned eighty, and I joked last week that if you really wanted to punish your enemies, get them to watch her on Jools Holland on New Year's Eve. We watched her, and she was AMAAAAAAAAAzing! Her voice is strong, her charisma is still very much in evidence. Close up, she does look like a little old lady. BUT, she was ten times better than anyone else on the show: Bobby Womack, who sounded like he was honking up twenty pints of Guinness into a rusty tin bucket. And who had the brilliant idea of bringing back Adam Ant from the dead? As for that blonde-haired woman with the key-legs, and the Scandinavian clowns dressed in Marx Brothers suits--I would rather not go there!
Pet Clark has a new album out soon. Hypocrite that I am, I am going to buy it. Okay, so I'll let you into a little secret--I already have many of the others. It was just the Tenco and Endrigo thing. This lady has more talent in her little finger than most of the others have in their plastic bodies.


  1. Glad that it`s been said.
    Recently I bought 2 DVDs of her .
    One is sort of a biography in her career.She started already as a childstar, up to her films ( with Fred Astaire for one).OK, she is NOT the same singer as in 1965, or even 1980. But she really deserves respect.

  2. What a nice apology post. Of course at 80 she can hardly be expected to manage to sing the way she did in her 30s and 40s. She had a magnificent voice then, strong, pure, soulful, which has been a bit damaged by time, as all voices are. Her lungs are not as they were... but neither are mine, or yours, I venture to suggest :)

    I've seen her in concert recently and she still has the hall on its feet several times during the performance. In French or English she jokes and laughs her way through a show of new and old songs... she rocks, and jumps about the stage full of energy. She's funny and clever. She can make you laugh your socks off (Tout le monde veut aller au ciel), or shed tears (Sous ma chemise il y a mon coeur).

    Her recent French album is brilliant. Some of her best recorded work since "Memphis", and I'm looking forward to her English album coming out 25th February.

    I know the show that you referred to, when she murdered Downtown. Even Pet Clark gets colds, and at 80 her voice just can't sing above them any more. It's very much to her credit that she tries.

    I agree about some of the other acts on Jules Holland's show... Ye gads some of them were baaaaaaaad. We were falling about laughing at Dexy (Irene), and the Dubliners seemed to have to speak their song. Emile Sandi, I though, was brilliant though. I see her as a possible new Ella Fitzgerald. I bet Pet loved her.

    Petula is at the Olympia in Paris on March 14 if anyone is interested, but the tickets are rather expensive!!! And one of her "Sound of Petula" from the 1970s is on BBC 4, along with the Blue lady documentary in a few days' time. (I forget the exact date.)