I wrote a blog earlier in the year that looked at the tradition of musical theatre stars releasing albums, such as Ramin Karimloo, John Owen-Jones, Louise Dearman and Mark Evans, to name a recent few. As a performer climbs higher up the ladder, they inevitably accrue a following along the way and, as their popularity increases, so do the calls from the fans to further satisfy their growing attachment. The moment they reach this level of success in their stage careers, it presents the ideal time to release an album.
When I wrote the previously mentioned blog, I also put a question to its readers: “Who would you like to see release an album?” The answers were widely varied, but there were a couple of recurring names who ended up topping the list. The first was Hadley Fraser which, if you’ve heard him sing, is no big surprise. The other was Simon Bailey, and it seems the voice of his fans was heard as his debut album goes on sale on 17th December 2012.
Simon Bailey is currently performing as ‘Raoul’ on the 25th-anniversary tour of The Phantom of the Opera, having also previously played the role in the long-running West End production at Her Majesty’s Theatre. His West End debut began fittingly on his 21st birthday in the musical version of Romeo and Juliet at the Piccadilly Theatre, and since then, he has performed lead roles in an array of musicals, including ‘Enjolras’ in Les Miserables. His other theatre credits include We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre), Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat (New London Theatre), Passion (Donmar Warehouse) and Parade (Southwark Playhouse), along with an extensive amount of concert work in both the UK and internationally. He is also well-known as one of the founding members of ‘Theatreland’s First Supergroup’ Teatro, along with Jeremiah James, Andrew Alexander and Stephen Rahman-Hughes. The success of their debut album, which went gold in just three weeks, made them one of the fastest-selling musical theatre acts of all time, and Bailey has named the band’s performance at the Royal Variety Show in front of the Queen as one of the biggest highlights of his career.
Looking Up is Simon Bailey’s debut solo album, to be released this Christmas on the SimG Records label. Under the helm of creator Simon Greiff, the SimG production company has championed the album releases of such musical theatre names as Annalene Beechey, Caroline Sheen and Stuart Matthew Price, along with numerous up-and-coming musical theatre composers and an array of original cast recordings of new British musicals. Bailey is the latest in a long line of high quality releases from SimG Records and, from what I know of him, promises to deliver another hit for the SimG catalogue.
The 12-track list for the album was recently revealed, featuring a mix of cover songs, duets and four of his own compositions. With new arrangements by wonderful MD Tom Deering (Dirty Dancing), Bailey uses his distinctive voice to offer his interpretation of a number of classics by well-known artists, which includes ‘Dance With My Father’ (Luther Vandross), ‘Tears In Heaven’ (Eric Clapton), ‘Travelin’ Thru’ (Dolly Parton) and a mellow, stripped-back rendition of ‘My Immortal’ (Evanescence). He also covers the musical theatre number ‘The Distance You Have Come’ by American composer Scott Alan, as well as entailing the services of some talented West End friends to duet with him on three tracks. He and Sabrina Aloueche (We Will Rock You) blend their impressive vocals in the award-winning song ‘Falling Slowly’ from the Broadway musical Once, while his Phantom co-star Katie Hall performs with him again, swapping Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music for that of American composer Jason Robert Brown with the ballad ‘I’d Give It All For You’. Bailey has also brought in the crème de la crème of duet partners in Phantom and Love Never Dies star Ramin Karimloo, the two friends embracing their fondness for folk rock band The Avett Brothers with a cover of ‘Murder In The City’. He completes his selection of album tracks with the self-penned songs: ‘Sing For The Angels’, ‘The Everchanging’, ‘I Can’t Stop The Rain’ and ‘Goodbye’; the number he premiered at last weekend’s concert (organised by Sabrina Aloueche and Parnell Page) which one audience member – who posted a video of Bailey’s West End Fest performance – described as “one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs I’ve heard…truly stunning.”
I’ve already listened to a few of the tracks on the album and so far, I’ve liked what I’ve heard. SimG Records will be releasing Looking Up on Monday 17th December 2012, but for fans who just can’t wait an extra day to hear that voice in action, he will be performing live at the SimG Productions winter cabaret Christmas With… Friends! on Sunday 16th December 2012, alongside host Annalene Beechey (Les Miserables, My Fair Lady) and her other ‘special West End friends’ Rebecca Lock (Avenue Q, Martin Guerre) and Simon Thomas (The Phantom of the Opera, Legally Blonde) at the Battersea Barge. It’s always a delightful experience to see a talented singer perform, but being able to listen to them whenever you choose in the comfort of your own home is an unparalleled pleasure. Bailey is a talented performer with a compelling voice and there are surely a vast multitude of people who would be very happy to spend an hour in the company of his dulcet tones -myself included.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)