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Baker's Dozen

Gold Dust Of Our Musical Worth: Ian Anderson's Favourite Albums
Barnaby Smith , June 6th, 2013 06:47

Ahead of a one-off show at the Royal Albert Hall, the Jethro Tull man picks out his thirteen finest albums


Alfie Boe - Classic FM Presents…
Last year I arrived in San Diego at the beginning of a tour, where I was playing the Thick As A Brick material. I ambled down to the theatre in the morning having arrived the night before, where the theatre manager said there was a note for me in my dressing room, left behind by Alfie Boe who they’d had a couple of nights before. I recognised Alfie Boe as a hotshot, super popular opera star who played at the Queen’s Jubilee Concert in Hyde Park. They crop up from time to time, these people who cross over from a more insulated music into wider popular culture, and Alfie Boe has certainly done that in the last couple of years with opera music. You might think he’s just another of the usual not-quite-authentic people who just find themselves singing the odd aria at working men’s clubs, and getting a record deal and a ton of money. But Alfie did his apprenticeship by studying at the Royal Academy of Music, worked with the D’Oyly Carte Opera and spent ten years of his life learning his craft. And he was a man born with enormous natural talent. Rather like Lou Gramm he has this very assured level of control – he knows what he can do.

I read his note to me, wishing me a good show and leaving me a phone number. So a few weeks later in England I called Alfie and we had a few chats on the phone, and though we haven’t met we were due on two occasions to have lunch, but he had to cancel because of his mother’s illness. But I hope I do get to meet Alfie because I think he’s a very fine singer.

I understand that while his desire is not to leave classical music, he wants to demonstrate he’s got the cojones of a Tom Jones or a Robert Plant or whoever - he wants to be a rock and roll singer. Far be it for me to say that might be mistake, you’ve got to give it a go. So Alfie’s branching out into rather middle-of-the-road pop and rock at the moment.

As a classical singer, I think he has the gravitas and vocal expertise, perhaps more vocal expertise, than Pavarotti at his relatively young best. If you listen to Alfie’s ‘Nessun Dorma’, I think you’ll hear something that is sung with enormous technical ability, control, authority and with the right amount of gravitas, it has a weight to it that I think is really great. I hope he doesn’t sell himself short in the realm of middle-of-the-road pop music.