How very Petula Clark, Helen's first single was on Fontana, same label as The Troggs.
My review of CENTER STAGE by Helen AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione [-]
Center Stage is a masterful album from Helen Reddy, combining, as she says in the liner notes, "two areas of my career: the recording studio and the theatrical stage." There are 14 selections, all from different shows, beginning with Cole Porter's "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" from Anything Goes to "The Party's Over" from Bells Are Ringing. The former, in particular, is culture shock for Reddy's radio fan base. It is like nothing the fans of her hits are used to, and for Cole Porter's legion of fans, it might be equally jolting. The voice so recognizable as an adult contemporary pop vehicle does what Reddy's friend Petula Clark did on the soundtrack to Goodbye, Mr. Chips, an album composed by Leslie Bricusse and conducted by John Williams: it makes a transition. "I Still Believe in Love" is more of what the fans know and love. After all, it's Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager penning the tune from They're Playing Our Song. It's followed by "A Boy Like You," a Weil/Hughes composition from Street Scene, and both tracks two and three are her hit "You and Me Against the World"revisited, her emotive voice plucking the heartstrings. "Surrender" changes the pace; a five-piece vocal ensemble consisting of Peyce Byron, Sabrina Cowans, Michele Mais, Wayne Moore, and Brenda Silas Moore push the artist to heights she hasn't sought on her hits. It's one of the highlights of the disc, and a career moment in her vast repertoire. Richard Hillman duets with the singer on "You're Just in Love" from Call Me Madam, and it is exquisite. Bruce Kimmel's production is seamless, and this collection becomes more special as the listener goes deeper into the disc. Joseph Baker arranges and conducts "Tell Me It's Not True," a special performance here, as Reddy states in the liner notes, she has "sung it so many times on Broadway and in the West End." "Tell Me It's Not True" and "Speak Low" give the singer a new arena to play in; to those not familiar with the works from where this material was culled, the album works simply as a new Helen Reddy disc, but with a twist. Sade should be so classy decades after her initial fame.Steven Orich's orchestrations are impeccable, as are the arrangements by Ron Abel. There was a hint of this when Reddy performed "The Fool on the Hill" for the 1976 soundtrack All This and World War II, but not on the scale she gives us 22 years later. Dusty Springfield tracked Where Am I Going, Olivia Newton-John gave us Warm and Tender, there's the Linda Ronstadt/Nelson Riddle trilogy, and Petula Clark's The Other Man's Grass Is Always Greener (the album, not the title track), but where those albums were conscious efforts by the singers to move into a new direction, this is Helen Reddy giving the world the scene she is into -- the theater. Dionne Warwick gave us hits from Bacharach & David's Promises Promises, but Reddy chooses "Knowing When to Leave" from that Broadway musical. The song selection is tremendous, and the performance is a milestone for a singer who has already conquered other formats.Center Stage is a delightful treat and will be a considered a classic years down the road, on that you can be sure.
Smooth are the performances and orchestration on this 1978 double-vinyl set. There is no date of this performance by Helen Reddy, recorded at the London Palladium. This expands her greatest-hits album and allows the entertainer to display her personality as well as some of her deeper album tracks. Of the 26 songs here, only Leon Russell and Harriet Schock share the distinction of having two compositions each covered by the songstress. Russell's "This Masquerade" and "Bluebird" follow Ralph Shuckett's "Rhythm Rhapsody" to start the concert off. Reddy sprinkles a hit or two per side until the medley, adding nuggets like Gale Garnett's timeless "We'll Sing in the Sunshine," which is a perfect selection for Reddy to sing and her audience to hear. Harriet Schock's "Mama" from the Music, Music album is one of the longest tracks at four minutes-plus, and gets a lengthy audience response. Cilla Black's 1964 hit "You're My World," like the aforementioned Gale Garnett hit from the same year, suits Reddy well. Live in London is a title used by scores of artists, from the Beach Boys to Petula Clark, Deep Purple, April Wine, Judy Garland, Glen Campbell, and so many others. This recording has lead guitarist Lenny Coltun conducting the Gordon Rose Orchestra with guitarist Ritchie Zito, keyboard player Tom Hensley, and others supplying the sound. Reddy gives renditions of Billy Joel's "The Entertainer," "Poor Little Fool" by Jeff Lynne, who shows up on the All This and World War II soundtrack with Reddy and who wrote this dramatic number for her, as well as Adam Miller's "The West End Circus." There's Alan O'Day's unconventional "Angie Baby" to open side two, and the song works better live, oozing with a thick and smooth sound. Producers John Palladino and Helen Reddy do a commendable job of capturing so many instruments and vocals and putting them into a wonderful mix. The album gets high marks for sound quality and performance, a classy snapshot of Helen Reddy's complete repertoire of hits from 1971-1977 with the exception of "Somewhere in the Night" and the flip of "I Can't Hear You No More," "Music Is My Life." For the fans of Helen Reddy this is a treat and a very necessary part of her collection. https://www.allmusic.com/album/live-in-london-mw0000219194?fbclid=IwAR384qg0m-UJGD5sdQFYOdDAOeTR-CbIP7tXLFcyvBcSPCOS5uVxCVA_xh4
SONGWRITER HARRIET SCHOCK WRITES US: Harriet Schock