A weekly show on American television has made Tracey Ullman a well-known figure, but it’s unlikely most viewers are familiar with these records. Her musical career revolved around chameleonlike visual characterizations (pictured on both LP jackets) and good taste in choosing songs to record. She hasn’t got any particular talent as a singer, but that didn’t prevented the spunky Briton from having hits on both sides of the Atlantic.
On You Broke My Heart in 17 Places, with producer Peter Collins and a stack of top sessioneers, Ullman (overdubbed like crazy in spots) covers such campy classics as “Move Over Darling” and “Bobby’s Girl,” as well as more contemporary winners, like “(I’m Always Touched by Your) Presence Dear” and Kirsty MacColl’s “They Don’t Know.” To some extent a commercial minded snooze, the mix of songs and sounds, relatively free of kitsch and gratuitous nostalgia, makes it a mild treat.
You Caught Me Out is essentially the same album with a dozen different numbers. Besides co-writing the title track, MacColl again has her back catalogue tapped, this time for “Terry,” which Ullman stifles (even while using the same backing track as on MacColl’s prior version); other jukebox selections here include “Where the Boys Are,” “Give Him a Great Big Kiss” and, for anomaly’s sake, a terrible version of the Waitresses’ “I Know What Boys Like.”
Except for a compilation LP to keep her in the bins, Ullman’s been doing less with vinyl and more with celluloid since. She was quite good alongside Meryl Streep and Sting in Plenty.