Now, as you all well know, I try and steer clear from novelty records wherever and whenever possible, but this is a little bit different. I discovered this shockingly awful piece of garbage in a charity shop yesterday and felt compelled to share it with you immediately.
This odd little disc features a brace of cover versions sung by a young woman by the name of Catherine Chaplin. The A-Side. If You Were a Tadpole. was written by veteran songwriter Hal Shaper and the internationally revered actress and singer Julie Andrews: Julie originally performed the song in her 1975 US TV special My Favourite Things.
Quite why Shaper would then decide to re-record this horror with this prepubescent simpleton is beyond me, unless that is he sniffed a potential hit and couldn’t get Julie to agree to issue her version. Ah, but it gets odder: this single was released in September 1977: in November Julie would once again perform the song, singing the tune to the green puppet that inspired it in the first place in an episode of The Muppet Show (the episode was broadcast in February 1978).
The B-side is no better: the young miss Chaplin attacks the classic You Made me Love You (originally published in 1913 and recorded in that year by Al Jolson) – bastardising Judy Garland’s cute, Clark Gable-dedicated intro. It’s vile. The Garland version, which this cut so evilly mocks, was originally adapted for Judy to sing to Gable at a birthday party thrown for him by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. MGM executives were so charmed by her rendition that she was added to the film Broadway Melody of 1938. Garland recorded her version on September 24, 1937. It’s a classic: Catherine Chaplin’s version is not.
But what do we know of young Catherine Chaplin? Bog all, if truth be known. This appears to be Catherine’s one and only release as a solo artist, although in the same year she also added her vocal skills to You Shan’t Come and Play in our Yard, a track from the John Inman album I’m Free (also issued as the B-side to the I’m Free 45). A Catherine Chaplin is also listed as a backing vocalist on French singer Jean Claude Petit’s 1980 album The Best Of All Possible Worlds and as one of the voices on the 2001 release A Classical Kids Christmas – although I doubt (in the latter case at least) that this is the same young lady.
And that’s all I’ve got. If anyone out there knows anything else about this peculiar little record – or its performer – please do get in touch.