Both Sides Now Release
~ Union Square Music ~ 12/02/13 ~
MICHAEL BALL is Britain’s leading, award-winning musical theatre star and platinum recording artist. As soon as he finished his 2012 critically acclaimed West End run in the title role of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’, Michael went straight into the studio to record his new solo album. The result is the beautiful, multi-layered BOTH SIDES NOW, which is released on February 25th 2013 through Union Square Music.
‘Both Sides Now’ showcases Michael’s outstanding talents in both areas of his stellar 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 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.
Together with Il Divo, who are special guests on the album, Michael has recorded an outstanding new version of ‘Love Changes Everything’ by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Michael first recorded the song – from Aspects of Love – in 1989 when he originated the role of Alex in the West End and Broadway productions; the song became a huge hit and stayed in the pop charts for 14 weeks.
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 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 continues: “Andrew then told me that Leslie came up with the title ‘The Perfect Song’, and Andrew wrote the music in the back of a cab on the way home! He then sent over the music to Leslie and Leslie wrote the lyrics. It’s an absolutely beautiful song written by two of the finest songwriters in the world and I’m extremely proud to be premiering it on my new album.”
‘Suddenly’ is also a brand new song and was written by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer especially for Hugh Jackman’s character of Jean Valjean in the film version of ‘Les Misérables’. Michael’s role as Marius in the original production of Les Misérables catapulted him to musical theatre stardom and he has been inextricably linked with the show ever since. In 1995 he recreated the role of Marius for the 10th Anniversary Gala Concert at the Royal Albert Hall and again for a special performance in front of HRH the Queen and guests at Windsor Castle in 2004 and he performed with the West End cast at the show’s 25th anniversary concert at the 02 Arena in 2010. In December 2012, he hosted an ITV 1 special, Les Misérables Movie Special, from the red carpet at the film’s star studded premiere which was broadcast nationally on New Year’s Day 2013.
Another significant new song is ‘Fight the Fight’ featuring lyrics by Tim Rice and lyrics and music by Stuart Brayson which will feature in the new, page-to-stage musical ‘From Here to Eternity’ which receives its world premiere at the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre on October 23rd. 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.
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.
BOTH SIDES NOW is released on February 25th 2013 – www.unionsquaremusic.co.uk
‘BOTH SIDES NOW’:
- Both Sides Now (org. Joni Mitchell 1967)
- The Perfect Song (new song by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Leslie Bricusse)
- I Won’t Let You Go (James Morrison 2011)
- Closest Thing To Crazy (Mike Batt, hit for Katie Melua 2003)
- Love And Affection (Joan Armatrading 1976)
- Suddenly (new song by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, and Herbert Kretzmer from ‘Les Misérables’ movie).
- I Will Always Love You (Dolly Parton, hit for Whitney Houston 1992 from ‘The Bodyguard’)
- I Won’t Send Roses (Jerry Herman, ‘Mack and Mabel’)
- Run (org. Snow Patrol, 2007 / also hit for Leona Lewis, 2009)
- Love Don’t Live Here Anymore (Hit for Rose Royce 1978)
- Songbird (Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac 1977 recorded by Eva Cassidy 1996)
- When She Loved Me (Randy Newman, From ‘Toy Story 2’)
- Fight The Fight (new song by Tim Rice & Stuart Brayson, from forthcoming new musical ‘From Here To Eternity’ opening 2013)
- Make You Feel My Love (org. Bob Dylan / also hit for Adele 2010)
- Love Changes Everything - Michael Ball and II Divo (Andrew Lloyd Webber, Aspects of Love, 1989)
MICHAEL BALL ON ‘BOTH SIDES NOW’:
“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.
“I explored how I wanted each song to sound; I wanted a lot of the songs to be accompanied by piano, guitar and strings, and on a couple of the tracks we’ve got backing vocalists as well. I get a real kick out of sitting in the studio with backing vocalists and floating ideas with them – it’s all part of working out how the songs should sound – the voice is my favourite musical instrument and it’s always a fun part of the process.
“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 actually bumped into them at The One Show just before I was due to go into the recording studio and asked them then and there if they’d like to sing on my new album – luckily they said yes! 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.”
“I’d also wanted to record ‘Love Don’t Live Here Any More’ for years and heard it in my head the way we’ve recorded it – I’m very proud of the way it’s come out! Some of the songs by female writers and singers – Katie Melua, Joan Armatrading, Joni Mitchell, Dolly Parton - tell stories that I think are perceived differently when sung by a male voice. My last album, ‘Heroes’, was all about my favourite male singers and songwriters; this time it’s about my favourite female singers and songwriters; in fact I was surprised to discover that no one’s actually covered ‘Love And Affection’ before; it’s a truly classic song. And I think Katie’s ‘Closest Thing to Crazy’ is simply a brilliant song.
“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.
“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. 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...
“I was thrilled when Claude Michel visited the studio when we were recording ‘Suddenly’ which of course he co-wrote for the film version of Les Miserables – it was the first time we’d been in a recording studio for 25 years – we had a great time together!
“I’m looking forward to taking ‘Both Sides Now’ on the road in April and May – I think audiences are in for a treat – and some surprises too!”