Michael Ball’s “Centre Stage”
I do get tired of Michael Ball‘s albums. He basically spews out about three a year with the same songs over and over. Especially from musicals, as he is a West End star and acts as such in the recording studio, never making any real concept albums.
To discuss Ball’s vocals is a bit of a moot point. He’s a baritone. He belts. He’s powerful. He’s emotive. He’s over the top. You can pilot a plane through his vibrato, and so on. He is very pleasent to listen to, has a beautiful tone and thus the material he records verges on tragic as it’s such a waste of a huge talent. But there you are. This is what we get from Michael Ball, and we have to make the most of it.
Among the mess that is his discography, it’s a good idea to find a definitive album and stick to it. For me, this musical album is my pick among them all. The only factor that makes Ball’s albums different from one another is which songs he covers, and this album has a good selection. It has its standard Andrew Lloyd Webber numbers but it has some unexpected musicals in the mix. The inclusion of Blood Brothers, Sweeny Todd, and Riverdance are a nice touch but the icing on the cake is the stunning ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miserables, a song that Ball would have heard every night but would never got to perform. I haven’t heard a better rendition of the song. Lesley Garrett also makes an appearence to give this album a little bit of extra class.
As is always the case with these kind of albums, every song has been covered so many times that they lose value and meaning, but Ball seems to invest a bit of himself in most of the songs which will always give Ball a step up over his contemporaries. As long as you skip over some of the more eye rolling tracks (‘Music of the Night’; ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight’) this album has every chance of being quite a refreshing listen.