Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Downtown" --Petula Clark

A very classy and--to me--surprisingly good update mix of one of my favorite pop songs of all time, "Miss" Petula Clark's monster hit from 1964. Hope you enjoy!

Some background, courtesy of Wikipedia.

"Downtown" entered the UK Top 50 dated the week 14 November 1964 ending a virtual two-year UK chart absence for (Petula) Clark; of the ten singles she'd had released in the UK during that period only one: "Chariot", #39 the spring of 1963, had appeared in even the lower charts. "Downtown" rose to #2 that December remaining there for three weeks, kept out of the #1 position by the Beatles' "I Feel Fine". Certified a Gold record for sales in the UK of 500,000, "Downtown" also reached #2 in Ireland and #1 in Australia, New Zealand, Rhodesia and South Africa, and was also a hit in Denmark (#2), India (#3), the Netherlands (#3) and Norway (#8).

However "Downtown" had its greatest significance in the reception it was afforded in the US. Warner Bros. A&R man Joe Smith was scouting in London for records with American hit potential, the musical British Invasion of the US then going strong. Smith wanted to release Clark's "Downtown" in the US and when a surprised Hatch asked if Smith didn't consider "Downtown" to be "a very English record" he recalls Smith's reply as: "It's perfect. It's just an observation from outside of America and it's just beautiful and just perfect."[1]

Warner Bros. released "Downtown" in the US in December 1964: the track appeared near the bottom of the national charts the week before Christmas and despite the Christmas season traditionally being the worst time to break a new hit "Downtown" shot up to the Top Ten in five weeks and the next week - 23 January 1965 - was #1. "Downtown" retained that position a further week before being overtaken by the ascendancy of the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'". Clark became the first UK female artist to have a US #1 hit during the rock and roll era and the second in the annals of US charted music, Vera Lynn having hit #1 US with "Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart" in 1952. "Downtown" also made Clark the first UK female artist to have a single certified as a Gold record for US sales of one million units. "Downtown" would be the first of fifteen consecutive hits Clark would place in the US Top 40 during a period when she'd have considerably less chart impact in her native UK, there reaching the Top 40 eight times."

Not bad, eh? It's fitting that the song had such an influence in America as it was inspired by songwriter Tony Hatch visiting New York City and walking down Manhattan's busy streets.


  1. I listened to this song when I was little without knowing who sang it until now. I also knew that Petula Clark had some association with France. Only now that I realize those 2 are the same person. Thanks.

  2. I always loved this song and her voice!! I had a tape with this on, probably still have it somewhere.

  3. You're welcome Tinh. I heard this one when I was little too, and it made growing up sound so fun.

    I like sharing these finds I run across on You Tube.

  4. I'm sure I have a cassette of "Petula's Greatest Hits" on cassette as well, Iri Ani. :-)

    She sang some great tunes, and I guess she's still singing, which is wonderful. I'm surprised she charted many more Top 40 songs in the USA than in the UK.