“I’m smoking hot
Cos I got the lot
And what I got
You have not”
What better time to give the concept album for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie a proper listen than on my way back to Sheffield, albeit to see a different show. Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae’s musical was a deserved sell-out success earlier this year and to accompany it, this recording of some of the songs, sung by the composer, a couple of the performers and some special guests was available to purchase in the foyer and is still around online. It truly was a cracking show and what this record shows, it is also a stronger score than you might initially give it credit for.
‘If I Met Myself Again’ is possibly the best track that Dusty Springfield never sang. A torch song of the highest order, replete with plaintive brass motif, Josie Walker (as Jamie’s mum) nails the ruminative mood with real heart and zero self-indulgence, it really is a gorgeous song. Walker’s second moment in the spotlight comes with ‘He’s My Boy’, a no less moving expression of maternal love in all its restrained passion. Jamie himself – John McCrea – only gets a brief moment to shine on its reprise ‘My Man Your Boy’ which is a bit of a shame as as emotive a number as it is, it doesn’t capture the effervescent star-making quality of his lead performance.
For this is a concept album remember and many of its pleasures come from Gillespie Sells’ renditions of his own songs. And it is hard not to see how much this music means to him – the tenderness of tracks like ‘Spotlight’ and ‘It Means Beautiful’ feel especially heartfelt, the latter interesting to consider in light of how it is used in the show. It’s impossible to ignore how much fun the musical is though and the pop credentials on show here are impeccable.
The brightness of the insanely catchy ‘Don’t Even Know It’ is irresistible (and randomly but brilliantly assisted by a cameo from Betty Boo), Sophie Ellis-Bextor similarly gives ‘Work of Art’ a definite shine, and Gillespie Sells’ own take on ‘The Legend of Loco Chanel’ shows it to be a fine tune. And if these renditions don’t quite have the same bite as their stage incarnations with all their characterful interpretation, well it just gives us the opportunity to campaign for a cast recording of the London production that surely has to be coming soon. Keep talking about Jamie…