As a singer, songwriter and actor, Newley was an impressive West End hyphenate who conquered both stage and screen in his native London and across the Atlantic. The working-class son of a Hackney shipping clerk inspired such diverse talents as David Bowie (well documented), Dudley Moore and Michael Ball, his innate talent backed up by a larger-than- life personality.
Personality is key to everything Newley did, from his stage triumphs (Doctor Dolittle, Willy Wonka), to leftfield TV comedy (The Strange World Of Gurney Slade) and writing commissions (the lyrics to Goldfinger). This album, collated from studio visits shortly before his death from cancer in 1997, is no exception. Every track is self-penned or co-written, abject lessons in music as drama.
Revisiting high points in his career, Newley is still in possession of a persuasively histrionic voice, infusing Love Songs Don’t Come Easy Anymore and Me Without You with a character all his own. Duet partners Petula Clark and Marti Webb tend to be reduced to supporting players, because this is Newley’s show, his theatrical tone elevating the numbers to grandiose declarations of the heart.