Producers: Stage Door Records &The Anthony Newley Society
Reviewer: Jacqui Onions
Anthony Newley passed away in 1999, leaving behind him an impressive legacy covering stage, screen and recordings, both as a writer and performer. The final recordings that he made in 1996 and 1997, before sadly losing his battle with cancer, up until now had remained unreleased. Newley’s fans have had a 13 year wait but now that wait is over as The Last Song, his final studio album, is now to be released thanks to Stage Door Records and The Anthony Newley Society.
The first nine tracks of the album are comprised of this previously unreleased studio material. Many of the tracks have a slow, melancholy feel, with titles such as There’s No Such Thing As Love and the title track The Last Song, but there is something quite fitting about this pace in a collection of final recordings. Unfortunately, the two upbeat songs that do appear are not particularly strong. The People Tree from The Good Old Bad Old Days, performed as a duet with Petula Clark, has backing that puts the listener in mind of a karaoke track, and The Music of the Universe from Once Upon a Song, which Newley sings here with Marti Webb, does not showcase either singer’s best performance.
The bonus tracks start with two previously unreleased Christmas songs; What Shall We Bring and Santa Claus is Elvis. The latter is by far the best track on the album – upbeat, funny, full of personality and Newley at his best. It is a song that puts a smile on your face, making it perfect for the Christmas season and a perfect way to remember the life and career of Newley.
The final songs are a collection of live recordings, which have also not been released up until now. These include the Newley classic, What Kind of Fool Am I? and finish with another highlight of the album, The Man Who Makes You Laugh. Newley’s vocals and acting skills draw you into this song and its story.
His voice and style, heavy on vibrato, are not going to be to everyone’s taste, but it is only right that his final recordings can now be heard this album is a must own for any Anthony Newley fan.