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I Know A Place: Petula Clark, Scott Walker, Connie Francis Celebrate “The Songs of Tony Hatch”

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Colour My WorldAce Records’ latest addition to its Songwriters Series, Colour My World: The Songs of Tony Hatch, should come with a warning label – CAUTION: THESE SONGS WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY.   A composer, lyricist, producer, arranger and A&R man (whew!), Hatch was a hitmaker par excellence, and one of no small skill for imparting joy through his music. Petula Clark’s bright 1964 single “Downtown” alone would likely have assured Hatch a place in the Book of Pop, Swingin’ Sixties chapter. But listening to a whopping 25 of his best pop confections back-to-back, it’s apparent how this versatile craftsman deserves a place at the top of the pantheon. It’s also clear just how central the beat is to his work. A Tony Hatch song pulsates with energy, vibrancy, urgency and above all else, abundant heart. That throbbing thump is often surrounded by punchy brass or majestic strings, and always in service of a catchy melody that’s determined to lodge itself in your brain and never leave. Drawing on the period between 1960 and 1974, when Hatch was at his most active, Colour My World is a stunning and effervescent compendium from a songwriter who hasn’t always gotten his full due.

Two women figure prominently in the Tony Hatch story and on Colour My World: Petula Clark and Jackie Trent. Hatch, a key producer and A&R man at the U.K.’s Pye label, recorded enough songs with Clark between 1963 and 1970 to fill a 3-CD box set. About half of those songs featured lyrics by Jackie Trent. A prolific composer-lyricist, Hatch forged a partnership in early 1965 with Pye artist Trent, who would become his wife. In short order, “Hatch/Trent” would become as familiar a credit as “Tony Hatch” and the couple would record a number of successful albums together. Colour My World gives Hatch’s work with both ladies ample time.

Petula Clark was already a star when she began working with Tony Hatch, but 1964’s “Downtown” – written, produced and arranged by Tony – returned her to the U.K. Top 20 (only her first single since 1961 to do so) and earned her not just her first American hit, but a bona fide Number One. It’s one of four Clark/Hatch collaborations here. In two minutes and seventeen seconds, the song has it all: one of the best piano introductions ever, a compelling, inviting vocal, a killer hook, and a universal lyric with which anybody could, and did, identify. “Downtown” hits its ebullient stride with a powerful instrumental break just under the two-minute mark, but its liberating call had already proved irresistible. Though Hatch had scored hits prior to “Downtown,” the time was right for his breakthrough. The Tony Hatch sound was youthful, vibrant and hip enough for the kids, but smart and “safe” enough for the adults.

We have plenty more on the music man after the jump including the complete track listing with discography and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 11, 2014 at 09:56