Storyteller

All posts tagged Storyteller

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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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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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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Welcome to the fourth in the occasional series celebrating Six Sensational Songs from Alfie Boe – each post features six songs chosen by a thoughtsofjustafan reader and this time it’s the turn of Sheila Currie.  Sheila first became an Alfie fan after seeing him in Les Mis on PBS and recently saw him in concert in New York, also having the opportunity to wish him well before the concert!  Sheila says about Alfie:

I could pick many more than six songs, certainly. Alfie Boe is someone who will not pass this way again in my lifetime. His voice goes in my ear directly to my heart.

Here we go with Sheila’s songs:

A Living Prayer, also chosen by Betty Valentine, was chosen by Sheila because “this was on the first CD I bought of Alfie’s after his Les Mis performance on PBS. I loved the video especially. He takes this song of Alison Krause to a hymn like quality.”

If I Loved You, from Carousel – this one might be very popular amongst Alfie fans these days!  Sheila says “I sang this song growing up in school choir and it just pulls at my heartstrings.”

Bridge Over Troubled Water was chosen by Sheila as it ” reminded me of my early married life during Vietnam era. I loved it then just as much”.

Forever Young, chosen  because “Alfie’s reworking of this Dylan song to remind us of those who have sacrificed for us was incredible, especially the PBS Memorial Day concert”.

Fratello Sole, Sorella Luna, also chosen by Betty Valentine, was chosen by Sheila  because “this beautiful song reminds me of my voice teacher and her passion for Italian opera”.

Where’er You Walk.  As Sheila says “An old song but I can still sing it as if it was just yesterday.

Thank you Sheila for sharing your six sensational songs with us.

If you would like to see your favourite songs featured here, complete the form below, telling me your six songs and why they are your favourites.  

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Voting has now closed in the 2017 Best Ever Alfie Boe song poll and the following playlist contains the top ten:

 

In 2016, the top ten looked like this:

1 – Love Reign O’er Me
2 – Dimming of the Day
3 – Trust
4 – Bring Him Home
5 – First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
6 – My Heart is Yours
7 – It’s Over
8 – A Living Prayer
9 – If You Go Away
10 – Forever Young

The first thing that strikes me about this year’s list is that there is only one song from Alfie’s most successful commercial album, Together – whether this has anything to do with it not being a solo album, I couldn’t say.

In contrast to previous years, Bring Him Home is now the only song to feature in every top ten, with just two more songs featuring in two top ten countdowns.  In addition to Anthem, there are two more new entries in Wheels of a Dream and In My Daughter’s Eyes.  This means that for the first time, A Living Prayer drops out of the top ten.

Last year we saw a definite move away from Alfie’s classical repertoire towards the rockier albums and 2017 continues in the same vein, albeit this time we are seeing a resurgence in the musical theatre songs.  I can definitely see the influence of Together in these choices – it seems that hearing Alfie sing a lot of musical theatre songs in recent months, as well as his appearance in Carousel has prompted more votes for this genre of music.  Trust remains the strongest album over all the polls so far, with Alfie having two tracks and one each for Bring Him Home, Classic Quadrophenia, Storyteller, Serenata, Together and La Passione.

Stay tuned for next week’s reveal of number 10 – we’ll be counting down until the beginning of the summer tour!

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The Thrill Is Gone at the Birchmere, Alexandria:

Alfie is clearly having the time of his life here but, as far as I’m aware, this is one song that he hasn’t performed in any tour since.  Bring it back Alfie, it’s great!

Written in 1951 by Roy Hawkins and Rick Darnell, the version most well known is that by BB King:

As mentioned in On This Day 31 January, Alfie was experimenting with blues at the time and The Thrill is Gone fits right in with that.  Perhaps that sound for Alfie was of it’s time  but I really hope we see it return in the not too distant future – I could listen to Alfie sing Trust and Storyteller all day long.

As mentioned, the original was by Roy Hawkins and this is it – still blues but more measured, at least to me:

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…at the London Boat Show (thanks to Linda W for sharing):

This was the first outing for Elvis’s If I Can Dream which would go on to be a crowd pleasing staple of the forthcoming Storyteller tour in March and April that year.  For me, it was the second time I had seen Alfie sing live, albeit in a place I had never envisaged – perhaps the first of the new places I’ve been to following Alfie!

The song was written for Elvis for the 1968 TV Special that relaunched Elvis’s career and was a considerable departure in style.  Now, it seems that the song is just part of what is sometimes referred to as Vegas Elvis but at the time, the gospel sound was completely new to Elvis. It’s one of my favourite songs from the later part of Elvis’s career and Alfie’s interpretation was even better!

Two fabulous singers with such different voices and approaches to music but the same spine tingling result.

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I Wanna Know What Love Is at the Sunflower Jam:

Thanks as ever to Linda W for sharing (listen at the beginning and you can hear a few shouts of “Go on Alfie” from Linda).

Sunflower Jam was a concert at the Royal Albert Hall to raise money for a charity of the same name, raising funds for and awareness of an integrated approach to cancer treatments.  Featuring an enviable line up including Brian May, Alice Cooper, Kerry Ellis, Ian Paice, Steve Balsamo and Rick Wakeman, the concert also featured a few musicians who went on to tour with Alfie on the Storyteller tour.

On the concert DVD you can see Nick Fyffe, MD for Storyteller, backing singer Seweuse and one other who went onto become MD for the Serenata tour in 2014.  I have one copy of the DVD available to anyone who can tell me the name of this curly haired guitarist – all you have to do is pop the answer in the form below* and a winner will be picked a week today.

Good luck!

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*entrants must be subscribed to this blog – open to UK residents only

Voting has now closed in the third annual poll to find the fan’s favourite Alfie Boe song (recorded) and the top ten is in a handy playlist for you:

There are just four songs that survived from the 2014 poll and of these four, just two have been voted into the top ten in all three polls so far.

In 2015, the top ten looked like this:

  1. Addio Sogni Di Gloria
  2. Keep Me In Your Heart
  3. A Gaelic Blessing
  4. Bring Him Home
  5. A Living Prayer
  6. Nessun Dorma
  7. My Heart is Yours
  8. Rank Strangers
  9. Forever Young
  10. Je Crois Entendre Encore

The first thing that jumps out is that the top two don’t even feature this time which means my favourite song isn’t there…although another favourite, Dimming of the Day has made it for the first time.

The second thing to note is that there is a distinct move away from the more classical side of Alfie’s repertoire, as Trust makes a strong return with four songs featured.   The remaining six songs are one each from Storyteller, Serenata, Onward, Classic Quadrophenia, Bring Him Home and Alfie.  If You Go Away is the only song to return to the top ten, having missed out in 2015 and Bring Him Home stays as the only musical theatre choice.

The top ten will start counting down from next week and will lead us right up to the start of the UK tour – anyone excited yet?

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The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore at Joe’s Pub, NYC:

Now there are many songs I could have chosen from this concert (the whole thing is available on YouTube) but I chose this one as it is the one and only song that my son has on his playlist…and you know he’s had a LOT of exposure to Alfie’s songs!

This is from Storyteller and here is Alfie to tell us about the story behind the song:

Storyteller is available here:

storytellercd

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