A-side: Send In The Clowns
You probably know this song - it's been done many times by a variety of singers and actresses each bringing their own interpretation to it whether it is as a stand alone song, or as part of "A Little Night Music". It's Sondheim so you would expect a well written, and perfectly crafted piece of music, and of course he delivers.
Many people, and I would include myself amongst them, would agree that this version of Send In The Clowns is the definitive one. Judy Collins has a sweet and pure voice, and tones she use bring out the bittersweet melancholy of the words and music. The orchestral arrangement is in perfect sympathy with her voice - supporting and adding texture, but never leading or dominating. The video that I've linked to has actually clowns in the background - but as it's from the Muppet Show - it's pitched perfectly and doesn't ruin the song or detract from it. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for another version of the song that I remember from the late 70's/early 80's it was a comedy show and one half of the duo was trying to sing Send In The Clowns, and on the chorus the other came in all Entry of The Gladiators ruining the song (it was probably Little And Large that sounds exactly like their schtick). I know it was meant to be funny, but whenever I think of this song - that's always the first thought that comes into my mind and it spoils it a little for me.
On the B-side is a song called Houses which seemed to me to be an oddly prosaic name for a song, especially as prior to this listening I cannot recall ever listening to it before. I must have done when I bought the record originally - but it obviously made so little impression upon me that until now I've had no call to listen to it again. I'll be honest and say that it hasn't made much of an impression upon me this time either! It's a pleasant, light sounding piece with nice folky tinges, and appropriate swoops and troughs through the melody, but not attention-grabbing enough for me to even notice what she was singing about! It could have been a a bland description of different types of Houses, or a scathing attack on a society which allows homelessness to happen, but I just didn't notice, and to be honest I not bothered enough top go back and listen to it again.
One quick tangential note - I love the picture on the label of Elektra records from this period - it's really eye-catching and distinctive. Also you'll notice that this particular copy may have come from a jukebox, because it's got that distinctive hole-too-big in the middle and needs that lovely plastic widget to go in the middle in order to be played on a home record player.
Next time some early 90's dream pop.