Birmingham Mail DECEMBER 12, 2008 - by Andy Coleman


Neighbours. Everybody needs good neighbours - especially when they are international music stars!

That's what former Neighbours actor Jason Donovan discovered while working on his latest album, Let It Be Me.

"Brian Eno's a neighbour of mine and I was strumming some stuff outside and he said 'why don't you throw these chords in'.

"I live in a mews where he has a studio. I asked him about some of the songs and there are two tracks on the album that he recommended."

But there was no room on the record for a song that Jason co-wrote with the Roxy Music legend who produced Coldplay's latest album.

"I didn't think it suited the album," admits forty-year-old Jason, "and that's a pretty tough call, to exclude a Brian Eno track."

The record is mainly a collection of songs from the late '50s and early '60s, Jason explains.

The idea came from an earlier UMTV/Decca compilation, Dreamboats and Petticoats. They wanted to do another recording but profile it as a person, rather than forty different artists."

Jason, who plays Birmingham's Symphony Hall tonight, thinks he was chosen for the project because he'd already covered, and had hits with, oldies Sealed With A Kiss and Rhythm Of The Rain, both newly re-recorded and included on Let It Be Me.

"Those years produced some of the most beautiful, simple love songs of all time and have something to offer for music fans today," he claims.

"This album manages to capture the spirit of my recording career once again and ticks a lot of boxes for me. The songs will appeal to all ages but I feel I'm also bringing them to a new audience.

"At Symphony Hall I plan to do some material from the new record, plus I'll throw in a bit of an '80s mix.

"You can't do a Jason Donovan concert without Especially For You, Any Dream Will Do and Too Many Broken Hearts - I don't think I'd get out alive if I didn't do them!"

Jason is one of the most successful singers in British history with world sales of thirteen million albums and four UK chart-toppers.

Following the release of his second album, Between The Lines, he became 1989's biggest selling artist throughout the UK and Europe.

Music has always been a driving force for the singer but Let It Be Me is his first album release since 1994's All Around The World and his Greatest Hits in 2006.

He admits that his past struggles with drugs, documented in his frank 2007 autobiography Between The Lines, has given his current work a new dimension.

His surprise Bali marriage in May this year to his long-term partner, stage manager Angela Malloch and the birth of his two children, Jemma and Zac, have cemented his personal contentment which he feels reflects in his latest project.

"Becoming a father has driven me and there is a focus to why I'm doing my work. The blond, blue-eyed kid that was looking for respect in the '80s and '90s has had to go through what I've been through to be able to earn it.

"My voice has matured and I'm just more confident in my job. I'm genuinely excited about recording again. I sing these songs without complication and they suit my vocals.

"I'm a true romantic. I must be. I guess when you take your girlfriend to Bali and then marry her a few days after proposing, there has to be some romance in your soul."