Thursday and Friday are a little bit of breathing space for me on the show, as the shows are prerecorded on the live studio days.
Not that I get a lie-in or anything, and the teams on the shows certainly don’t get to put their feet up, they’re busy booking guests and finding features for the next week’s shows.
We have the most fabulous guests and it’s an absolute joy to meet so many different people from all walks of life. Our celebrity guests are always genuinely happy to be with us (either that or they are all incredible actors!), none moreso than Michael Ball.
Michael appears on today’s show to promote his new solo album “Both Sides Now”, which showcases Michael’s talents in both areas of his career – the stage and the recording studio. The album features songs by some of his all-time favourite artists such as Joni Mitchell, Katie Melua and Dolly Parton, together with classic musical theatre songs and new songs by world famous composers. “The idea for the album came to me after doing Sweeney Todd,” says Michael. “I had already decided to record Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’ and started thinking about songs from both sides of my career that could work together – songs from musical theatre and contemporary pop songs. All the songs on this album are about lyrics, about storytelling and they’re all very intimate, personal and insightful.
The title track, ‘Both Sides Now’, was written by Joni Mitchell in 1967 and was a huge international hit for Judy Collins; Mitchell recorded it for her own 1969 classic album ‘Clouds’ and the song has endured ever since. Joni Mitchell is Michael’s all-time favourite singer/songwriter and his version of her lyrical song is a superb interpretation. I’ve always loved Joni Mitchell and loved her stunning, orchestral version of ‘Both Sides Now’; I wanted echoes of that but I wanted a tempo as it’s a song about life experience and I’m old enough now to know that the older you are the more you realise the less you know…”
Together with Il Divo, Michael has recorded an outstanding new version of ‘Love Changes Everything’ by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
“It was a complete pleasure working with the boys in Il Divo and we had a really good time in the studio recording ‘Love Changes Everything’. I’ve been wanting to work with them for some time… I think they bring a new dimension to one of my favourite songs and I’m really pleased at the way it’s turned out.” The newly composed songs on the album include ‘The Perfect Song’ written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Leslie Bricusse which will be released as a single on March 18th. This marks the first time that Lloyd Webber (Evita, Sunset Boulevard, Phantom of the Opera, Aspects of Love, The Woman in White) and Bricusse (What Kind of Fool Am I, The Candy Man, Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice) have collaborated on a song; between them the songwriting giants have won dozens of Academy Awards, Oliviers, Tonys, Grammys and their contribution to Michael’s new album is something of a musical coup.
Michael is looking forward to performing the new material. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Timothy Rice have both written material especially for him. This is the first song that Andrew Lloyd Webber has ever written (apart from the charity song ‘Sing’) for commercial, single release. Michael describes how the song came about:“I was chatting to Andrew Lloyd Webber at a party and told him I was recording a new album and he said to me: ‘Actually Michael I’ve just written a new song with Leslie Bricusse and I think you should have it! I was in Los Angeles last week for Leslie’s 82nd birthday and Michael Caine, who was there as well, asked Leslie and me if we’d ever written a song together. We realised we hadn’t and thought it was a great idea!’
Michael spent a very happy two years at the Shaftesbury as Edna Turnblad in ‘Hairspray’ which won him the Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 2008. “One of the really exciting things about recording a new album is when you have brand new songs such as Tim Rice’s ‘Fight the Fight’ and Andrew LIoyd Webber’s ‘The Perfect Song’ and you have to decide how they should sound. Tim sent me a demo of ‘Fight’ then I talked to him about my idea of wanting it to sound West Coast/country rock/Eagles which he loved; with Andrew’s song we first recorded it as a big production number but it sounded wrong so we pared it right back to being very simple with guitar and strings and me harmonising with myself.
Michael has recorded a truly magnificent version of Joan Armatrading’s classic 1976 hit ‘Love And Affection’ which builds from a simple acoustic opening to a full blown gospel chorus arrangement. The dreamy ‘Closest Thing To Crazy’ by Katie Melua is here along with a beautiful version of Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’, the powerhouse ballad from the current West End smash hit musical, The Bodyguard. “I’ve done ‘I Will Always Love You’ in a very simple way; I think people will be expecting big belty vocal gymnastics but it’s just about one of the most sensitive and beautiful examples of lyrics and melody together so I’m singing it as if I were just talking personally to someone.”
Join Michael on tour if you can, by catching his show at one of the following venues :
‘BOTH SIDES NOW’ – TOUR DATES 2013
15/4– Regent Theatre, Ipswich
17/4 –City Hall, Newcastle
18/4 – Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow
19/4 – Empire, Liverpool
21/4 – City Hall, Sheffield
22/4 – Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
23/4 – Barbican, York 25/4 – Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
26/4 – Opera House, Blackpool
27/4 – Symphony Hall, Birmingham
29/4 – Pavilions, Plymouth
30/4 – New Theatre, Oxford
1/5 – International Centre, Bournemouth
3/5 – Brighton Centre
4/5 – Hammersmith Apollo, London
5/5 – Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
7/5 – St David’s Hall, Cardiff
9/5 – Colston Hall, Bristol
10/5 – Guildhall, Portsmouth