I bet you know far more Petula Clark songs than you think you do. Petula? Who? How about “Downtown” (hilariously exploited on an episode of Seinfeld), “A Sign of the Times,” and “My Love.” This British diva was one of the true cool chicks of the British Invasion of the 1960s, not quite Mod enough to be mistaken for an Avenger, but a hipster nonetheless. Clark is also the most successful female artist in British music chart history.
The Petula Clark Anthology: Downtown to Sunset Boulevard rounds up these ‘60s classics and more, venturing into her more recent career as a West End/Broadway star. None of this is oldey-moldey cutesy pop. Rather Clark had a terribly cool proper English voice and pefect pop sense combined with one of those gutsy showstopper personas that almost dies out with Judy Garland. Disc one in particular is a non-stop smile-fest, a guilty pleasure that makes the coldest Midwest winter day feel like a day in sunny, toasty Huntington Beach. I popped the disc in my player for “Downtown,” but half an hour later my co-workers were starting to wonder why the hell I was bopping around in my chair with a big grin.