Primary Instrument: Vocalist
MICHAEL BALL's beautiful new cd, Back To Bacharach, is an impressive choice of classic tunes from the legendary composer's outstanding canon of work. Back To Bacharach reflects Michael's personal favourites and catapults him into a new musical direction.
I've recorded a few Bacharach songs over the years and performed some in concert and always felt they suited me, says Michael. I love the stories, and the lyrics (many by Hal David) have always struck a chord with me, especially on the more serious numbers. Bacharach has such a brilliant ear for melody and his music has a completely timeless feel to it; I thought it would be great to do a whole album of his music and to record with a full orchestra and big band which is something I hadn't done before. I thought it was also time I made a sort of 'late night' album with sophisticated arrangements--and he's definitely the king of all that!
Classic tracks include Make It Easy On Yourself which was a No. 1 hit for the Walker Brothers in 1965; You'll Never Get To Heaven If You Break My Heart a huge hit for Dionne in 1964; (They Long To Be) Close To You immortalised by The Carpenters; Anyone Who Had A Heart chart toppers for both Cilla and Dionne; Alfie Bacharach/David's Oscar nominated film theme from 1966 and the Oscar nominated The Look Of Love which was a huge hit for both Dionne and Dusty in 1967...
Dusty Springfield was one of my all time favourite singers, says Michael. She was the rarest of talents, she pioneered a completely new sound and paved the way for a host of other female performers. Her 'Dusty In Memphis' is one of the greatest records ever made. We sang ‘Ain't No Mountain High Enough' together on my TV show and it was the last public performance she made. It was absolutely thrilling singing with her ? her version of 'The Look Of Love' is so sexy...I hope I've done it justice.
More tracks include One Less Bell To Answer...
Barbra Streisand recorded a medley of 'A House Is Not A Home' and ‘One Less Bell To Answer' for her 1971 album Barbra Joan Streisand which I thought was beautiful. I had already recorded 'A House...' on my second album and really wanted to record One Less Bell. It's a perfect and surprising song; it doesn't go to places you would expect it to ? the rhythms, the key signatures and so on--and it has a sense of drama which of course is what I like and what I do--I like to approach a song as an actor as well as a singer; as an actor I'm able to tell a story and this is one of his best storytelling songs. I love it. ...and This House Is Empty Now with lyrics by Elvis Costello.
I recorded God Give Me Strength, another Bacharach/Costello collaboration; I just think the combination of these two huge talents is fascinating; there's a pain to Elvis Costello's lyrics which I find really powerful, says Michael.
...and Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do) by Christopher Cross from the 1981 movie; This Guy's In Love With You a hit for Herb Alpert in 1968; You'll Never Get To Heaven another Dionne classic from 1964; Reach Out For Me and What the World Needs Now.
The result is a cool, sophisticated album--a departure for Michael whose multi-platinum award winning albums have seen him move through rock, soul, movie themes, classic pop songs and sweet ballads. It provides the perfect showcase for his unique voice and gives him the opportunity of exploring the songbook of Burt Bacharach, the 21st century's equivalent of the Gershwins, Irving Berlin and the great writers of the American songbook. These are songs that are extraordinarily well crafted pop songs, classics of their time that have stood the test of time and that have retained their coolability, their fashionable status and their musical credibility.
Biography: MICHAEL BALL, Britain's leading musical theatre star, has won critical and public acclaim over the last twenty years with his dynamic, award-winning, lead performances in the West End and on Broadway. A multi-platinum recording artist, oustanding live concert performer and charismatic leading man, Michael has won the hearts of a fiercely loyal public with his numerous performances onstage, on radio and TV and in concert across the UK, Australia and the US. His many West End credits include Marius (Les Miserables); Giorgio (Stephen Sondheim's Passion); Raoul (Phantom of the Opera), Alex (Aspects of Love, West End and Broadway), Caractacus Potts (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and Count Fosco (Woman In White, West End and Broadway). He made his debut with the New York City Opera in 2005 as Reginald Bunthorne in Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience and this summer he made his English National Opera debut as Hajj/Poet in Kismet. In October Michael will star as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray which opens at the Cambridge Theatre on October 30th (previews from October 11th).
Michael's television shows have included Michael Ball and An Evening With Michael Ball while he hosts a regular series of Ball Over Broadway for BBC Radio 2. His discography includes Michael Ball, One Careful Owner, First Love, Michael Ball--The Musicals, Michael Ball ? The Movies, Music, One Voice and the forthcoming superb homage to Burt Bacharach, Michael Ball--Back To Bacharach, which is released on October 22nd through Universal Music TV.