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:
- La Vie En Rose
- Moonlight Serenade
- Sing Sing Sing
- Stompin at the Savoy feat. Kara Tointon
- A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square feat. Brennyn Lark
- The Way You Look Tonight
- Minnie The Moocher feat. Kelsey Grammar
- As Time Goes By
- My Funny Valentine
- Ain’t Misbehavin’
- Mood Indigo
- I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance
The album is released on 23 November 2018