A buoyant Russell Watson chatted with David Allen on BBC Radio last night, talking mainly about his forthcoming album “Anthems – Music To Inspire A Nation” and the patriotic tour to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
He said that he felt like it was a ‘flashback’ to his first two records as he was working with the same producer, Nick Patrick, to re-visit his ‘glory days’ of that period in his life when he was achieving success “on the crest of a wave” on both sides of the Atlantic. He hoped people would like the new album, “… and it’s all in English!”
He referred to his (charitable) work with members of the Royal family, adding that he was very much a Royalist and passionate about the Diamond Jubilee, around which the new album and tour are based.
David had taken questions from listeners before the interview was recorded and Russell confirmed that Flower Of Scotland would be on the new CD. He also indicated that he was planning to return to Japan and Singapore before the end of the year and that he had recorded a new track for a Japanese film (Nessun Dorma for the movie Thermae Roma).
At this point, David played Russell and Lulu’s duet, The Prayer, before asking about the forthcoming Gala performance at the Royal Albert Hall on 2nd June. Russell confirmed that there would be both a matinée and an evening performance, and that even the matinée was almost ‘sold out’ already. David asked if two performances in one day wouldn’t prove tiring; Russell responded that, after 3 gigs a night on the club circuit, carrying his own gear, two shows at the Royal Albert Hall would be a ‘piece of cake’. He went on to confirm that there would be “celebrity guests” at the the RAH but wouldn’t give any clues as to who they might be.
They went on to discuss the tour and Russell hinted that additional dates might be added to those already arranged, though he was particularly sorry that he wasn’t doing ‘the Armadillo’ (the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre at Glasgow). He apologised for the fact that there were no dates in Scotland or Northern Ireland and explained some of the difficulties in securing venues.
Russell described his recent ten-venue tour of Asia as one of David Foster’s ‘Friends’, along with Michael Bolton and David Bailey, as “most enjoyable” and told David that he’d like to work with David Foster again but knew that he was very busy, having just taken over a record label. He also pointed out that David Foster had written The Prayer, the track that had just been played… leading nicely into another musical break with Russell’s Be My Love from ‘La Voce’.
After the interlude they chatted about Russell’s introduction to the world of music and he said that a ‘Hoffner semi-accoustic’ was the first guitar he ever bought, then he gave up the piano – the biggest mistake of his life.
Coming back to the present Russell said he plays a lot of tennis and would play every day if possible, even taking the odd hour out from recording sessions to play.
Talking, then, about his daughters and whether they had inherited or acquired any interest in music, he said that his eldest, now 17, had recently secured an apprenticeship in hair design but his younger daughter seemed to have an aptitude for the piano.
Then, talking about his life so far, David suggested that it might make a good film. Russell laughed that nobody would believe it, “Billy Elliot gone mad,” he called it. David asked him about his plans for after the tour and Russell replied in one word… “Rest.”
Reminding Russell of his part in “War Of The Worlds” a few years ago, David asked him if he would consider doing anything like that again and Russell said that he had performed in “Kristina” for Benny and Bjorn (of ABBA fame) at Carnegie Hall; while he had enjoyed ‘dipping in and out’ of stage work he had no immediate plans for anything else along those lines. For now, he was just enjoying working on the album and preparing for the tour.
David said that they hadn’t got anything from the new album to play to end the interview and he would use another of Russell’s much-loved songs, Nessun Dorma. Russell said that there was still a lot of work to do on the new album and that it was only about half-finished but he would ensure that David would be sent the first promotional track.
They played out with Nessun Dorma and joking about what O.B.E. stood for (not the usual Order of the British Empire!) while David read out what was deemed to be the latest track-list for the new album…
The Queen’s speech
Land Of Hope And Glory
Flower Of Scotland
Abide With Me
We Are The Champions
Calon Lan (with the From Male Voice Choir)
Danny Boy (with Moya Brennan)
White Cliffs Of Dover (with Dame Vera Lynn)
God Save The Queen
followed by a (partial) list of tour venues.
Throughout the interview David had read out emails, etc, from Russell’s fans from all over the world and Russell himself was kind enough to acknowledge their support.
# Russell played the part of Parson Nathaniel in the stage production of “Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War Of The Worlds“. This is available, in several versions, as a DVD.
The David Allen show is available to Listen Again on BBC iPlayer until 21st April 2012