Review of The Real Neil by Neil Sedaka
How do you start to review an album from an artist whostarted writing music 60 years ago, has a huge string of albums already, has written over 1,000 songs for himself as well as other artists and is in the Guinness Book Of Records for the biggest UK hit this century? Neil Sedaka is part of US music history. The album is released in the UK on 1st October and kicks off a 10 venue tour that will take the 73 year old to the four corners of the UK.
His new album “The Real Neil” grabbed my attention immediately for two reasons. Firstly, it is surprisingly his first acoustic album – just Neil and a piano. Secondly, it also closes with classically trained Neil’s first piano concerto ‘Manhattan Intermezzo’, recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
You can tell that Neil enjoyed making this album, a mix of new songs as well as old classics. His voice with just a piano to assist is pure and there are no production gimmicks or fussiness involved here.
Listening to this album of 16 tracks is like eating a box of celebrations – its mostly good, there are some things that you won’t touch and a couple of things you’ll want to gorge on.
So let’s start with the things all but the diehard fans will probably want to avoid. There are two songs – “You’ll Be There” and “Captured By Your Love” thatwould be better sounding playing in a lift as ‘musak‘. Also weak are two other tracks – “Its Hard To Say Goodbye” and “Runaway Lover” that sound like re-hashed versions of older and better songs. Finally, “Sweet Music” must have been written when Beil was watching a rerun of Grease. His fans may like this – but not me.
But before you write the album off – things start to get much, much better. Some of his classic songs are here and sound sweet: “You”, “Laughter In The Rain”. My personal favourite classic on this album is “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” – a touching version of one of his biggest hits and quite different from versions that you might have heard before. The acoustic version of “Amarillo” for which Peter Kay and Tony Christie helped him to win the Guinness Book Of Records award is funny as you get a strong feeling that this version is really poking fun at the song itself. Its cheesy and intended to be that way.
There are also some good new songs such as “Beginning To Breathe Again”, “Broken Street Of Dreams” , “Heart Of Stone”, “Everybody Knows” and “Mi Amor”. These are delivered with a passion from someone who really loves his music. These new songs along with the new versions of his classics alone make this album a worthwhile buy.
But then comes something really special. who is classically trained has added in a bonus track – his first piano concerto “Manhattan Intermezzo” . No singing, just sweet, sweet music. Recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Air Studios in London this 18 minute track is pure bliss. It was written with his home town of New York in mind and if you close your eyes listening to this you will feel yourself blown with the wind through the streets and districts of The Big Apple.
Neil describes this album as “this is how my songs come to life, right here at the piano. This is the pure form of the song, the way I wrote them.” Listening to the album I am even more surprised that he has never done acoustic before.
Overall, a good album and a listen that I am sure that his millions of fans worldwide will enjoy.
‘The Real Neil’ is released on 1st October, 2012
Neil Sedaka is also touring in October (details below)
Saturday 6th October – SageGateshead
Monday 8th October -Glasgow Clyde Auditorium
Wednesday 10th October – The Bridgewater Hall,Manchester
Friday 12th October – Colston Hall Bristol
Monday 15th October – Symphony Hall,Birmingham
Wednesday 17th October – Royal Albert Hall,London (with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra)
Thursday 18th October – Royal Concert Hall Notttingham
Saturday 20th October -Bournemouth International Centre
Monday 22nd October – St David’s Hall,Cardiff
Wednesday 24th October – Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
Review by Doug Duffin