Tag Archives: Album

NEWS: Alfie Boe announces new solo record As Time Goes By celebrating the golden era of music

For the first time in four years, Alfie Boe returns to the solo spotlight with the release of his vibrant and instantly classic album As Time Goes By. A record that celebrates the golden era of music from the 30s and 40s, a time that is often overlooked – sandwiched as it is between the roaring twenties and rock ‘n’ roll.

Alfie is one of the best-loved vocalists of his generation and a hugely successful, multi-platinum selling artist. He has triumphed on theatre stages and in concert halls around the world and has two recent UK #1 albums under his belt for albums ‘Together’ and ‘Together Again’, made with his great friend Michael Ball. The duo also won two Classic BRIT Awards earlier this year for ‘Best Album’ and ‘Group of the Year’.

The record boasts Alfie’s voice at its strongest, alongside a full band, led by Grammy award winner Gordon Goodwin and his Big Phat Band. It journeys through the defining songs of the era – from the full force of “Sing Sing Sing” – a song strongly identified with big band and swing, through to slower, smoother numbers “The Way You Look Tonight” and “As Time Goes By”. And on the Cab Calloway 1931 classic “Minnie the Moocher” – using an arrangement inspired by Bobby Darin’s cover – there’s a guest appearance from Frasier star Kelsey Grammer.

The recording sessions took place at the celebrated Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, where Frank Sinatra made so many of his vintage albums. Musicians such as Sinatra and Gene Krupa were the pop stars of their day and during this time, a network of ballrooms sprang up to cater to young people looking for thrills and excitement.

“Stompin’ at the Savoy”, one of the tracks on the new disc, was a 1934 homage to that Harlem landmark, The Savoy Ballroom. The atmosphere of these venues springs back to life with the band and Alfie’s raw energy on vocals.

Alfie had a specific sound in mind for his new album: “I kept saying to the players in the studio, ‘Please don’t play clean, please make it dirty.’” When he decided to revisit classic songs from the 1930s and 40s, it would have been simple to create a clean-cut swing session that has become a rite of passage for many a best-selling entertainer. He had bigger ambitions. Instead of politely tipping his hat to the great songwriters and musicians of the past, he creates the excitement and visceral passion of a period, which saw the birth of modern pop music.


As Alfie explains: “You had Louis Armstrong blasting out songs, Gene Krupa hammering on the skins. Cab Calloway was as wild a performer as you could possibly get. There were all these musicians who know how to play with emotion. What we’re also trying to do is to show how it all came together and how it influenced the music scene in the UK. You could say it was like a revolution.”

This record goes deeper for Alfie – it is the music that was part of the soundtrack to Alfie’s childhood in Lancashire. In a way, the new project is homage to his parents, who – along with their passion for tenors and sopranos – introduced him to the glories of big bands and classics by Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra.

“They were really into the big bands – Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie,” Alfie recalls, “I remember a story my mother told me. When she was pregnant with me she was watching a TV show and Gene Krupa came on and started the drum solo from Sing Sing Sing. She had a cup of tea on her tummy, and immediately she felt me kick and the tea went up in the air. She always told this story and it made me realise I was connected with music even before I was born.”

The story of the golden era of music is largely forgotten and long overdue revisiting. On ‘As Time Goes By’, Alfie imbues it with passion and personal history. Alfie is an artist who has effortlessly broken boundaries via his love of music – and with this record, he continues to do so.

As Time Goes By Track List:

  1. La Vie En Rose
  2. Moonlight Serenade
  3. Sing Sing Sing
  4. Stompin at the Savoy feat. Kara Tointon
  5. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square feat. Brennyn Lark
  6. The Way You Look Tonight
  7. Minnie The Moocher feat. Kelsey Grammar
  8. As Time Goes By
  9. My Funny Valentine
  10. Ain’t Misbehavin’
  11. Mood Indigo
  12. I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance

The album is released on 23 November 2018

 

NEWS: Golden Girls of musical theatre release album

Actor Bonnie Langford, musical theatre star Maria Friedman and soprano Lesley Garrett CBE – have joined forces for the very first time to record a brand new album and hit the road for a UK Headline Tour entitled ‘Golden Girls’. With over 130 years of collective experience, these Golden Girls are legends of the stage and screen.

The album, to be released on November 30th will feature tracks hand-picked by the three women, capturing their timeless vocals and infectious personalities. A complete soundtrack to their lives, each track is a celebration of their journey as women – the nostalgia, the joy, the highs, the lows, and the excitement for what is still to come.

The highly anticipated ‘Golden Girls’ tour will also take the three women to music venues around the country – starting on 12th January in Canterbury and concluding at Sheffield’s City Hall on 4th February, including a date at the London Palladium on 2nd February.

Pre-order your copy of the album HERE by Monday 12pm and get early access to tickets for the Golden Girls live shows*.

Keep updated by following GoldenGirlsUK on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram!

REVIEW: Irit – Òran Mór, Glasgow

Irit Dekel’s life story is almost as colourful as her music. The Tel Aviv native has been an Israeli Army sniper, actress, TV host, film-maker and comedian and is in Glasgow with her three-piece band to showcase her debut solo album Happy.

Her sun-soaked sound transports, instead of sub-zero Scotland, it’s the sound of Parisian pavements, middle eastern rhythms, Astrid Gilberto, Buena Vista Social Club, and a dash of Piaf.

There’s a bite to the lyrics behind the catchy melodies, and Dekel describes some of the life experiences that have influenced the songs, one particularly affecting is based on her military service and the paralysing of her bunk mate in a freak gun accident. That said, the over-riding feeling is one of joy. The rhythms infectious. There’s also an original take on R.E.M.’s Shiny Happy People.

Irit Dekel is offering up something original with this east-west hybrid of influences. An antidote to the grey world outside the doors. Highly recommended.

 

ALBUM REVIEW: Songs from the Stage by Leading Ladies

Three of the most lauded leading ladies of the London stage united in friendship when they all appeared in the West End at the same time, as the friendship blossomed they decided to team up to produce an album of theatre classics.

That album Songs from the Stage, is available on 17 November 2017.

Every track means something to the singers, Amber Riley, Beverley Knight, and Cassidy Janson – some of the material chosen from shows they have appeared in or a musical they personally love. 

The problem with many theatre performer’s albums is the poor production values, however, the calibre of the singers has been recognised here, Songs From The Stage is produced by Grammy Award-winning British producer Brian Rawling, who has worked with Cher, Tina Turner and Lionel Richie. The album’s sound is rich and befitting performers of this quality, with lush arrangements and full orchestral backing.

 

Songs From The Stage track by track review:

1. One Night Only (Dreamgirls)

The musical that cemented Leading Lady Amber Riley’s reputation as a theatre star. The three singers feature on lead vocals – a short, snappy, high energy 1970s disco influenced opener to the album.

2. Seasons of Love (Rent)

For fans of musical theatre this really is a song you mess with at your peril. The vocals are a bit thin and nasal in parts and the backing vocals synthesised. The production detracts from one of the best-loved modern musical songs.

3. I’m Every Woman (The Bodyguard)

Off to a fantastic start with Britain’s Queen of Soul Beverley Knight leading the vocals, this builds into a fantastic, feel-good dancefloor-filler. Arguably the best track on the album.

4. You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman (Beautiful)

The music stays true to Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s original but Janson’s country-tinged vocals, lend it a different dimension.

5. Wind Beneath My Wings (Beaches)

This is probably the weakest track on the album. It’s neither original nor powerful, which a song covered this many times has to be to make any impact.

6. Helpless (Hamilton)

The inevitable track from Lin Manuel Miranda’s theatre juggernaut Hamilton. This is an upbeat R n B track that doesn’t deviate from the original. A good fit for the trio.

7. Memory (Cats)

The trio tackle Cats’ big tear-jerker. Pleasant, if nothing spectacular.

8. Somebody to Love (“We Will Rock You”)

Another pleasant cover with all three singers sharing the lead.

9. Falling Slowly (“Once”)

This is a beautiful song, but the voices and arrangement left me cold. It has a heavy country tinge that strips away the emotional impact of the original.

10. Love Will Stand (“Memphis”)

Knight is undoubtedly the stand-out vocalist. This allows her powerhouse voice to soar.

11. Raise The Roof (“The Wild Party”)

An odd choice, this Latin number is a bit of a filler. There are better songs out there to showcase the talent here.

12. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (“Beautiful”)

The trio harmonise on a pared-back, slowed down of Goffin and King’s spectacular classic.

13. Don’t Rain On My Parade (“Funny Girl”)

Janson delivers a true to the original, good old fashioned, roof-raising version of the Funny Girl show-stopper. There’s more than a touch of the Streisand about it.

14. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (“Meet Me in St. Louis”)

Just in time for the festive season, the album ends with Meet Me in St. Louis’ enduring Christmas classic.

The sheer quality of the vocalists, instrumentation and production elevate Songs From The Stage above its peers. The clever choice of tracks, that includes some pop and rock big-hitters that have appeared in theatre shows is clever and gives the album wider appeal. There are some show-stoppers, some interesting new arrangements and a few less successful choices, but this is a work of quality from these stars of the stage and an ideal stocking-filler for the musical theatre fan in your life.

REVIEW: Keith Jack: Movie Nights – Wild Cabaret, Glasgow

Astonishingly, it’s a decade since Dalkeith native Keith Jack was runner up in the BBC’s search for a ‘Joseph’ in Any Dream Will Do. Only 19 years old at the time, much has happened in the ensuing years, with Jack eventually donning the technicolour coat on the tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

Currently on tour to promote his third and latest album, Movie Nights, Jack returns to Glasgow with an up-close and personal show at Glasgow’s Wild Cabaret. Sitting at tables, under twinkling candlelight, it’s a hark back to the golden days of cabaret.

Eschewing any of the musical theatre tunes that have made him famous, the entire set comprises Jack’s personal movie favourites. There’s no doubt that Jack possesses a voice that would blow a set of barn doors off, but there’s a sense of holding back in this small venue. The sound levels are also a tad imbalanced, the three piece band (drums/keys/guitar) headed by MD Scott Morgan, often overpower Jack – and that’s no mean feat.

The songs in the two-hour set are treated to some new and unusual arrangements from Morgan, the most successful of which are the ballads, especially She’s Like the Wind from the much-loved Dirty Dancing, accompanied only by the piano, Jack’s voice gets to shine fully. A particularly nice touch is the inclusion of children’s choir Vivace who provide depth and colour to I Believe I Can Fly and the title song from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Less successful are Jack’s backing singers who are almost inaudible. The set list as a whole is eclectic, and there really is something for every taste.

Jack’s bubbly personality shines through, and he manages to gee the crowd into life as the night progresses. This is a lovely, small venue and the chance to see a performer of Jack’s calibre and interact with him in such an intimate setting, is a rare treat – it is a great way to spend a Sunday evening – you just can’t help pine for some of those big musical theatre belters to let Jack’s phenomenal voice soar…maybe next time.

Keith Jack: Movie Nights at Wild Cabaret, Glasgow, Set List:

Viva Las Vegas

Love Me Tender

Jailhouse Rock

Staying Alive

Love Is All Around

A 1000 Years

You Got a Friend in Me

So Close

I Just Called to Say I Loved You

I Believe I Can Fly

Beauty and the Beast

She’s Like The Wind

Eye of the Tiger

Somewhere Out There

Bright Eyes

When You Believe

Kiss From A Rose

Run To You

Everything I Do (I Do It For You)

Jailhouse Rock (reprise)

Keith Jack’s album Movie Nights is available from: http://officialkeithjack.co.uk/shop.php

 

NEWS: THREE SUPERSTARS OF THE WEST END COME TOGETHER FOR A SPECIAL ALBUM OF MUSICAL THEATRE CLASSICS

Direct from the West End comes a unique union of three celebrated queens of musical theatre: Amber Riley (Dreamgirls), Beverley Knight (The Bodyguard and Memphis), and Cassidy Janson (Beautiful). This is Leading Ladies.

The trio has announced Songs From The Stage – an album of unforgettable songs from great musicals like Hamilton, Cats, Rent, Dreamgirls, Funny Girl, The Bodyguard, Memphis, Beautiful and many more. Songs From The Stage will be released on 17 November 2017 through East West Records (Warner).

Amber, Beverley and Cassidy had become friends after seeing each other’s shows, so it was no surprise that the three performers leapt at the opportunity to do an album together. The creative journey was nothing short of a joyous and bonding experience for the ladies when they caught up to share their favourite songs and the personal stories that coloured them.

The Leading Ladies said: “We all knew we’d have so much fun making a record like this. Every track means something to us – whether it had been from a show one of us had done or from musicals we love. There were so many beautiful songs to choose from, it was near impossible to shortlist to one album. We have absolutely enjoyed singing together and hopefully, you will be able to see us together on stage soon.”

Songs From The Stage is produced by Grammy Award-winning British producer Brian Rawling, who has worked with chart-topping artists such as Cher, Tina Turner and Lionel Richie.

Songs From The Stage tracklisting

  1. One Night Only (“Dreamgirls”)
  2. Seasons of Love (“Rent”)
  3. I’m Every Woman (“The Bodyguard”)
  4. You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman (“Beautiful”)
  5. Wind Beneath My Wings (“Beaches”)
  6. Helpless (“Hamilton”)
  7. Memory (“Cats”)
  8. Somebody to Love (“We Will Rock You”)
  9. Falling Slowly (“Once”)
  10. Love Will Stand (“Memphis”)
  11. Raise The Roof (“The Wild Party”)
  12. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (“Beautiful”)
  13. Don’t Rain On My Parade (“Funny Girl”)
  14. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (“Meet Me in St. Louis”)

Each of the Leading Ladies are accomplished stars of stage, music and screen in their own right.

Amber Riley – already a globally-renowned star from her six-year stint in the hit TV musical series Glee – made her transformation into a bonafide theatre star in November last year with her West End debut. Her portrayal of Effie White in Dreamgirls earned her Olivier and What’s On Stage awards for Best Actress in a Musical this year. Amber also has a Screen Actors Guild Award for her portrayal of Mercedes Jones in Glee and has starred in stage productions of Hair and Cotton Club Parade.

Beverley Knight, Britain’s Queen of Soul, is a three-time MOBO Award-winning recording artist with platinum and gold-selling albums under her belt. Over the past four years, Beverley has locked down the West End with headlining roles in The Bodyguard, Memphis The Musical – which earned her an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress in A Musical in 2015 – and Cats, playing Grizabella. Beverley made her journey back to Memphis last year to record her eighth studio album Soulsville, which went straight into the Top 10 of the album charts last summer and celebrates the sounds and legacy of the city that gave us music greats like Al Green and Aretha Franklin.

Cassidy Janson is no stranger to the West End having recently wrapped her glorious two-year stint playing Carole King in the Olivier, Tony and Grammy award-winning musical based on her life: Beautiful. The leading role also earned Cassidy a chance to duet with Carole King on stage at the legendary songsmith’s sold-out show at British Summer Time Hyde Park in 2016. Prior to that, Cassidy had played the iconic Elphaba with the original London cast of Wicked.

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KD_4MBJ33AQ

REVIEW: Brian May & Kerry Ellis – Golden Days

Queen’s Brian May and musical theatre stalwart Kerry Ellis have forged a strong, if unexpected, musical partnership over the past few years.

In their newest collaboration the pair have delved into their live back catalogue, deliver their own versions of some well-known classics, as well as penning a series of original songs. The result is an eclectic mix of styles and genres, doubtless to appeal to their diverse fan base.

Track by Track:

Love In A Rainbow (Brian May, Kerry Ellis)

Billed as “retro-psychedelic”, it’s a gentle poppy ballad and low-key start to the album.

Roll With You (Brian May, Kerry Ellis)

Written to illustrate Ellis’ favourite sayings, attitudes and philosophies on life. Despite the classic rock guitar riff, it’s more a cheerful middle of the road high energy pop tune.

Golden Days (Brian May)

A lushly produced power ballad.

It’s Gonna Be All Right (The Panic Attack Song) (Brian May)

Very much in the same vein as the other recently-penned songs on the album, this is another middle of the road pop-rock number.

Amazing Grace (John Newton, Trad. Arr, Brian May)

Accompanied by May on acoustic guitar, this is a simple, but beautiful rendition of the traditional hymn.

One Voice (Ruth Moody)

This choir favourite has been given a fresh vocal arrangement.

If I Loved You (Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers)

One of the musical Carousel’s most-loved songs, Ellis delivers an ear-pleasing version, gentle and less strident than the musical theatre original.

Born Free (John Barry, Don Black)

Billed as a “rock re-arrangement” of the classic movie theme this is very richly produced, and includes a guitar solo with May sounding his most Queen-like.

Parisienne Walkways (Phil Lynott, Gary Moore)

Gary Moore’s signature guitar song is given a female vocal, but it is May’s superlative guitar skills that shine  through.

I Who Have Nothing (Carlo Donida, Mogol, Jerry Leiber, Mike

Stoller)

One of the world’s most covered songs. This is an odd, synth heavy, 80s-sounding Bond theme-imitating version with dated sound and production.

The Kissing Me Song (Brian May, Kerry Ellis)

Another 80s style pop-rock number.

Story Of A Heart (Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson)

Written by Abba’s world-famous song writing duo and originally the title track on The Benny Andersson Band’s compilation album, this sounds like late-era Abba after their glory days were over.

Can’t Help Falling In Love (Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore, George

David Weiss)

A nicely judged version of the much-loved and much-covered song.

The album is a pleasant offering that isn’t going to break any new ground or win a legion of new fans. Stylistically and in its production style it sounds of another era, somewhat over-produced and the song choices, considering the talent of the two individuals involved is ultimately uninspiring, but the diverse selection will undoubtedly keep the duo’s fan base happy.

Released on Sony Music the album is available to purchase/download now.