Poll

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Number seven in our countdown to find your favourite Alfie Boe live song leads us into the world of classical music once again and is our first and only entry from Serenata:

It is of course the glorious Addio Sogni Di Gloria from Classic FM Live 2014 – I was lucky enough to be there and Alfie blew the audience away.  Magnificent – anyone who was there lives in eternal hope that they’re lucky enough to hear it live again.

The song was voted in at number three in the 2016 poll and number five in this year’s best recorded song poll, although two years ago it reached the top.

 

The third song in our third Best Alfie Boe Live Song poll is a song that has featured in both previous polls, albeit it has slipped slightly further down the chart this year to number eight.  The song has consistently featured in the top ten of our annual best recorded song poll as well and has also been picked twice as part of our six sensational songs series.  I’m talking about Rank Strangers:

This was the first time that Alfie sang this song and is mostly widely requested during polls, as is Alfie singing it on the Storyteller tour:

Both these version are very different from the recorded version which was famously done in one take!

Rank Strangers was written by Albert Brumley, a musician and singer born in Oklahoma in 1905.  After studying at the Hartford Musical Institute, Arkansas,  Brumley toured with the Hartford Quartet and went on to write / copyright an astonishing 800 songs.  The most famous of these is I’ll Fly Away from 1932.  In 1970 he was inducted into the Country Song Writer’s Hall of Fame and his songs have been covered by amongst others, Bob Dylan, who I’m sure introduced Alfie to the song.

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As Alfie and Michael head off to Australia for their whirlwind tour of five cities, it’s time to look at the second song in our 2017 poll to find Alfie Boe’s Best Live Song.  Number nine is a new entry to the top ten although it’s been on the long list since the first poll was run in 2014.  Here is Always On My Mind:

In a previous post, I said that this Elvis song was written by Willie Nelson but…it wasn’t! It was written by Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher and Mark James as a country song and first recorded by Brenda Lee:

Carson gave an interview to Jake Brown for his book, Nashville Songwriter and talk about the songwriting process

I wrote those two verses of Always On My Mind living in Springfield, Missouri, and I usually write from the melody. I’ll think of the melody or the chord structure or something … If the melody is singable, the words are not far away. It’s only a story, you know.  In this case, Always On My Mind happens to be one of those things that, universally, everybody on the planet has been there, you know. And it struck all at one time. Everybody touched base with that one. It was just magic that it was so simple and so right on the button.

I purposely didn’t write a bridge to Always On My Mind because I didn’t think it needed one. We decided to cut that dude one night in Memphis, back when I was recording for United, I guess it was—or whatever label I was recording for at that time; and so, Tips Smallman, my producer and dear, lifelong friend, said, ‘Wayne, I think this thing needs a bridge.’ And so I said, ‘Well, how do you want me to do it?’ He said, ‘Why don’t you take it upstairs to my office; I’ve got a little piano up there, or a guitar—whatever you want to use.’ I said, ‘Well, actually, I used a piano so I’ll go up there and see what I come up with.  In the meantime, Johnny Christopher comes wandering in and he said, ‘Do you need some help?’ And I said, ‘Well, it looks like I’m going to because I haven’t come up with anything as far as a bridge.’ And I said, ‘Johnny, I never thought it needed a bridge, so I never did give it a second thought.’ And we sat there and sat there and nothing happened. Then pretty soon here comes Mark James just picking up his mail at the publishing company, which was right next door to the studio. He said, ‘What are you doing?’ and I said, ‘Tips wants a bridge for this song.’ Now Mark had never heard the song at that point. And we had a version of it cut already, without the bridge. That’s why there had been some talk that Mark had wrote the song and cut me in on it at one time. So we got that dispelled real quick. Anyway, the three of us sat there and finally wrote those two lines—you know, the bridge. ‘Tell him that your sweet loving …’—that part. Hell, a hit’s a hit.

Famously, Elvis recorded the song after splitting with Priscilla and has remained, even with all his other tracks, one of his most popular songs.  Alfie sang this song on the US tour of 2012 and not to my knowledge since then.  Another song to add to my extensive ‘songs I want to hear Alfie sing live’ list!

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With ten weeks to go until the start of Alfie Boe and Michael Ball’s Together Again tour, it’s time to count down Alfie’s ten best live songs, as voted for by you in 2017.  There are a few new entrants to the top ten and one or two surprises but the first in our countdown is O Sole Mio / It’s Now or Never from the Diamond Jubilee concert in 2012:

For many years, O Sole Mio would have been a song extremely well known to Alfie and he was still performing it well into 2012, albeit with a bit of Elvis thrown in.  Here’s the master himself:

A different arrangement of It’s Now or Never featured on the Storyteller album but was never performed live.  This song has long been a favourite with fans and cemented this with an appearance at number nine in the 2016 Best Live Song poll.  It has also been chosen twice in our semi regular Six Sensational Songs series.

O Sole Mio was written in 1898 and has been recorded and performed by huge numbers of people, making it one of the most famous Neapolitan songs around.  Alfie himself sang it on his 2007 album La Passione although that hasn’t stopped him having to explain that it’s not about ice cream to UK audiences – for those of you outside our sunny shores, the tune of O Sole Mio was the theme of Cornetto ice cream TV adverts for a ten year period in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Sorry – I just couldn’t resist putting it in!

O Sole Mio is available on La Passione:

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With the Together Again tour coming ever closer, and the Australian tour even closer, it’s time to find out which song is really the fans favourite.  Thank you to everyone who sent in their nominations, we have six new songs added to the list.  Will last year’s winner, Run, win again?

To help you decide, here is the playlist of all the songs nominated:

Get voting – you should be able to vote multiple times!

Voting will close at the end of next week and we’ll begin counting down shortly after!

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We may only be in September but the countdown to Alfie Boe and Michael Ball starts here!  Alfie has Classic Quad and the pair go to Australia in a month, not to mention the promotion of the album but Ball and Boe Together 2017 starts in three months!

To while away the time before then, let’s go back to a good old poll – this time to decide on the 2017 fans favourite live song from Alfie.  Nominations are now closed.

Here are last year’s choices to help you choose (they aren’t in the right order):

Voting will commence in two weeks and number ten will be revealed the week after after that.

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We’ve done it, we’ve counted down to the 2017 Best Ever Alfie Boe song so let’s take a look at the top ten so far:

10 – Parlami D’amore Mariu

9 – In My Daughter’s Eyes

8 – Wheels of a Dream

7 – Forever Young

6 – Anthem

5 – Addio Sogni Di Gloria

4 – Keep Me In Your Heart

3 – Love Reign O’er Me

2 – Rank Strangers

And so that leaves only one song at the top and it’s no surprise that after two years at number four, Bring Him Home returns to the top:

This was the first time I heard Alfie sing Bring Him Home live.

Bring Him Home, is without question Alfie’s most popular and famous song.  The vast majority of fans who have come to know Alfie since 2010 (myself included) have done so through Les Miserables, Jean Val Jean and Bring Him Home – Alfie’s star really was born at the 25th anniversary concert.  Everything that has come since started on that day and ensures that Alfie will continue to sing Bring Him Home for as long as the demand is there…forever!  Of course the problem with this is I find it really difficult to write anything at all about Bring Him Home.   So, instead of my thoughts, let’s go back to what Alfie said about it in his autobiography:

It is such a spiritual song, it’s so special.  When Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil wrote it they must have been so excited…It is a prayer, it’s actually called The Prayer, it’s not officially called Bring Him Home and I treat it as such every time I sing it.  I pray.  That’s what makes it work.

Interestingly, when I interviewed Alfie for the Club 24601 series in 2015, although he mentioned Bring Him Home as being a great song, he actually picked the Soliloquy as the song with the greatest emotional and vocal range.

Thank you for sending in your suggestions and voting – I love seeing the different songs that make it into the top ten each year.  Enjoy the summer concerts – click here if you haven’t yet got a ticket.

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Just two songs left on this year’s Best Ever Alfie Boe Song countdown which means that there’s less than two weeks until Alfie starts his Summer Together tour with Michael Ball.  If you haven’t got tickets yet, click here.  I’m once again looking for guest reviewers so make sure you read to the end!

Song number two is a song that has featured twice before, in 2014 and 2015 and is this year’s only representative from Storyteller.  Rank Strangers is an American folk song from the early twentieth century which Alfie first sang on his Bring Him Home tour of 2012 and then recorded for Storyteller that same year.  Here is Alfie’s acoustic version from the Storyteller tour:

Rank Strangers was written by Albert Brumley, a musician and singer born in Oklahoma in 1905.  After studying at the Hartford Musical Institute, Arkansas,  Brumley toured with the Hartford Quartet and went on to write / copyright an astonishing 800 songs.  The most famous of these is I’ll Fly Away from 1932.  In 1970 he was inducted into the Country Song Writer’s Hall of Fame and his songs have been covered by amongst others, Bob Dylan, who I’m sure introduced Alfie to the song:

Alfie, I hope you know that this is true dedication on my part, to feature, yet again, Bob Dylan’s vocals on this blog!

Stay tuned next week for the reveal of the fans’ Favourite Song 2017!

With the summer tour so close, I’m looking for guest reviewers again – I need reviewers for all the shows except Greenwich so if you want to have a go, send a sample of a short review of either a concert or album via this form:

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Song number three is last year’s number one, Love Reign O’er Me from Classic Quadrophenia (CQ):

This song, perhaps more than any other from Classic Quadrophenia, shows off Alfie’s vocal strength and versatility.  The high notes are just majestic, there’s no other word for it, whilst the quieter moments have such warmth and restraint.  Anyone who has been lucky enough to see Alfie sing this live will attest to the power of his voice.  Hearing it at the premiere of Classic Quad at the Royal Albert Hall was one of the best musical experiences of my life.  Quite simply took my breath away.

The song was originally performed by Roger Daltrey but here is Pete Townshend at Symfunny 2 last month:

Anyone who gets the chance to hear Alfie sing CQ in its entirety should grab it with both hands – he is absolutely sublime in the role.  As and when those chances become available, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Classic Quadrophenia is available here:

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With just over a week since Alfie Boe ended his acclaimed run in Carousel, fans could be forgiven for being  a bit lost; however, the arrival of number four in our Best Ever Alfie Boe song poll means that we’re only a few short weeks away from seeing Alfie performing in the summer Together tour. Of course, if you’re a US based fan and can get to New York City tomorrow evening you could see Alfie (and Michael Ball) very soon – click here to buy tickets – you know you want to!

Song number four in our countdown is one that occupies a very special place in my heart – and many of yours too it seems – and means that I will forever be associated with buttons on blouses!  Dipping out of the top ten last year, Keep Me In Your Heart made it’s debut at number two in the 2015  poll.

This is of course Alfie’s version of Warren Zevon’s 2003 song and you can find out more about the original here, as well as seeing the fan video that Alfie made.  Alfie has performed Keep Me In Your Heart at many concerts since it was released and usually incorporates an audience singalong; rarely, aside from the Huawei Winter concert in December 2014, does he perform the song ‘straight’.  An exception was the last night of the Together tour:

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