Sunday, February 15, 2015

Jackie Trent &Tony Hatch - The Two Of Us & Live For Love (19671968)

Jackie Trent

A British singer/songwriter of the '60s whose voice was far better suited for reaching the back row of Broadway auditoriums than soul or rock, Jackie Trent (born Yvonne Burgess in 1940; she changed her name to Jackie Trent at the age of 14) nonetheless operated on the fringe of the U.K. pop scene in the manner of other femme belters like Cilla Black, though her efforts were usually even more middle of the road. Her one big triumph was her number one British single in mid-1965, "Where Are You Now (My Love)"; that would be her only Top 20 entry. If she can often sound like Petula Clark crossed with Shirley Bassey, there's a good reason for that; she shared Clark's producer, Tony Hatch, who would become her songwriting partner and husband. Trent and Hatch, in fact, penned several of Clark's hits, though (with the exception of "Where Are You Now") the composers weren't nearly as successful when applying their songwriting/production talents to Jackie's discs. Trent recorded quite prolifically for Pye in the '60s (including some duets with husband Tony), but it's as a songwriter that she'll primarily be remembered.

Tony Hatch

Although Tony Hatch had success in various segments of the entertainment industry from the '60s onwards, he'll be best remembered for his work as a producer and songwriter for several British pop and rock stars in the '60s. As a staff producer at Pye Records, Hatch worked with the Searchers, Petula Clark, his wife, Jackie Trent and on several early singles by David Bowie. Hatch's productions boasted a clean and well-arranged sound that, particularly on his collaborations with Petula Clark, displayed some traces of mainstream pop and Broadway. His most significant role in straight British rock music was as producer during the Searchers' 1963-66 commercial prime, a span which saw them ring up all of their big hits. He left his biggest imprint, however, by producing and often writing the big international hits by Petula Clark in the mid-'60s, including "Downtown," "My Love," "I Know a Place," "Don't Sleep in the Subway," and "A Sign of the Times,." These had enough mod swing to sell to a rock audience, but also enough showbizzy horns and theatrical-type piano to bring in older listeners.
Hatch also had a fair amount of success with Jackie Trent, a singer-songwriter who somewhat recalled Petula Clark and hit number one with "Where Are You Now (My Love)." Moody balladeer Scott Walker also had a British hit with Hatch-Trent's "Joanna." Hatch recorded a few duets with Trent and made some instrumental recordings under his own name, which gathered some belated hipness when they were included on some CD compilations geared toward the lounge revival crowd. During the '70s, he and Trent wrote a couple of musicals and some television music, including the theme song to "Neighbors."

Live For Love (1968)

01. Jackie Trent And Tony Hatch - Just Beyond Your Smile
02. Jackie Trent And Tony Hatch - Let It Be Me
03. Jackie Trent And Tony Hatch - Loving Things
04. Jackie Trent And Tony Hatch - We're Falling In Love Again
5. Jackie Trent And Tony Hatch - Lazy Day
6. Jackie Trent And Tony Hatch - 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)
7. Jackie Trent And Tony Hatch - Love So Fine
8. Jackie Trent And Tony Hatch - All Because Of You
9. Jackie Trent And Tony Hatch - Everything In The Garden
10. Jackie Trent And Tony Hatch - Little Green Apples
11. Jackie Trent And Tony Hatch - Our Little Boat
12. Jackie Trent And Tony Hatch - Live For Love

Jackie Trent's 1968 album (done in collaboration with Tony Hatch, who shares credit with Trent as the artist) was more material in a somewhat sub-Petula Clark mode. This time out, the duo focuses more on the work of other songwriters, most notably Roger Nichols and Tony Asher, as well as popular favorites by Paul Simon ("The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)") and standards such as "Let It Be Me." She and Hatch do well enough as vocalist and arranger/conductor, respectively -- "Love So Fine" is well worth hearing for its overall sound and arrangement; but Trent just isn't an interesting enough singer on most of this album to make this a compelling listen, except for '60s U.K. pop/rock completists. There are some great songs here, however -- in addition to the bright, spritely "Love So Fine," the ethereal Hatch/Trent original "Lazy Day" (which strongly resembles Fred Karlin/Dory Previn-authored "Come Saturday Morning," from the same year) which make this record a lot more interesting than the singing per se. One must, of course, balance that against dross such as the jaunty brass-and-strings-driven version of "Feelin' Groovy," though even the latter is pleasant enough in its middlebrow way. For very good reasons, the record didn't attract a lot of attention in 1968, but it contained so many of the attributes of good rock-focused pop of its period, that it now possesses what one may call contextual value, and may be worth owning on that basis alone, with any number of Petula Clark and Tom Jones albums of the same period (though those would outclass most of what's here, song for song).

The Two Of Us  (1967)

1. Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent - I Must Know
2. Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent - Play It Again
3. Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent - Don't Stop Now
4. Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent - Morning Dew
5. Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent - Work Song
6. Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent - Thank You For Loving Me
7. Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent - Route 66
8. Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent - Living It up Again
9. Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent - The Fool On The Hill
10. Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent - The Joker
11. Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent - Country Girl and City Man
12. Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent - The Two Of us

Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent were married at the time of their 1967 album The Two of Us. While Hatch had released some instrumental easy listening albums under his own name, this was the first time he'd sung anything but background vocals on record. Understandably, however, his singing was somewhat subservient to Trent's, who had already scored hits in the U.K. with Hatch as producer. They actually weren't intending to make a whole album together, but their lightly swinging jazz-pop single "The Two of Us" -- written by Hatch and Trent, and not even intended by Hatch for release -- became a big Australian hit, leading Pye Records to ask for an entire album. Like its title track, much of the LP was very white-bread showbizzy jazz-pop, sung from an imaginary universe where ebullient happy-go-lucky romance was not only the dominant tone, but virtually the only one. No doubt it was fun to make for the principals involved, but it's certainly not as good as the best records produced by Hatch (who also handled Petula Clark and the Searchers) and/or sung by Trent. There were feel-good pop tracks that were less cabaret-oriented and could have passed for Trent or Clark LP cuts (though Clark would have sung them better), "Play It Again" being about the best of those. Elsewhere "Don't Stop Now"'s arrangement owed a slight debt to Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billie Joe" and slightly recalled the duets done by Nino Tempo & April Stevens in the same era; "Country Girl and City Man," co-written by Chip Taylor, was unconvincing pop-soul; and "Morning Dew" was decorated by thin, cheesy sitar riffs.

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