Engelbert Humperdinck is an international bestselling artist. He has numerous hits including “Release Me”. His latest venture is a duet album, called “Engelbert Calling”, singing classics along with Elton John, Olivia Newton-John, Il Divo, Willie Nelson, Gene Simmons, Wyonna Judd, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Mathis, and Neil Sedaka to name a few. Media Mikes had a chance to chat again with the legendary singer to discuss the new album and how it all came about.
Mike Gencarelli: We first spoke back in July of 2011 and you mentioned you were working on the album; how does it feel to final have this album available to fans?
Engelbert Humperdinck: Good to speak with you again Mike. Yeah, can you believe it has taken that long? It has taken just over three years to complete this particular album. Thank God for internet for being able to send these tracks across the world to each of the artists involved with this album. It was a lot of work and I am glad that it is finally available to my fans to enjoy!
MG: Pretty ambitious having a 2 CD, 23 track debuts CD; how did they idea come about to do a debut album?
EH: You know, Elton John was responsible for starting this off. I was listening to one of his live albums and on one song he says something like “This song I wrote many years ago as a struggling artist, living in a flat in London and was waiting for an Engelbert Humperdinck to call and take it off my hands and make it a hit”. So I finally called and told him I was listening to this album and it gave me a great idea. I asked him to sing a debut on my next album and he said “Yes”. So, once you get someone like Elton John, he is the honeycomb, everyone else is just drawn to it.
MG: With “Spinning Wheel”, it seems like you and Gene Simmons had a lot of fun with this song; how was it in the studio with him?
EH: Gene was great in the studio. He really brought a lot of pizazz into the studio. He was very loose and very charismatic. They took a photo of half of each of our faces and we really do look alike [laughs]. Overall, it was great fun working with him.
MG: So besides Gene, who else did you record with in the studio?
EH: Elton John was the other. Those were the only two and the rest were done via the airways. Technology has made it possible to do things that are impossible in real life. This album was done in England, London, Los Angeles, New York, Nashville, South America and Europe. At least, I was in the studio with a couple of them. Sinatra wasn’t in the studio with any of his artists for his “Duets” album [laughs].
MG: Tell us about the title “Engelbert Calling”? I picture you going through your contact list and calling out all your friends.
EH: Yeah, the biggest challenge was putting it all together and making my wish list of people I wanted to work with. Johnny Mattis is one of my favorite singers of all time. I love his work. Kenny Rogers was great getting to work with. I mentioned Gene Simmons already, which was a highlight. When I called Willie Nelson, he recorded his part in Nashville, I told him that I was so thrilled to have him on the album, especially singing a Bob Dylan song. Along with signing, I also asked him to play guitar since he has such a great unique style. He was so accommodating and after he recorded it called and made sure it was ok. So that was really great.
MG: Your debut with Elton John for “Something About the Way You Look Tonight” is an amazing way to kick off the album?
EH: With total respect for Elton and since he was the first, I had to put him right at the top of the list. He is the person that started the whole ball rolling.
MG: How was it singing with your kids, Louise and Bradley on this album?
EH: Yep, that is my son and daughter at the end of each disc as a bonus track. I was thrilled to have them there. I wanted to show the world, since this is a world release record, that my children can sing and also pay tribute on my album.
MG: “I Need You Know” with Lulu is one of the newest songs that you covered; what made you choose this song?
EH: I had to have Lulu on this album. Many years ago, when my single for “Release Me” came out, she was on a show in England called “Jukebox Jury”. There were four people on the panel and Lulu was the only one who voted my song a hit. She did a super job on this song. It is a great duet song, so it was easy picking. Plus it suited her voice very well.
MG: After such an amazing album like this; how do you plan to top this?
EH: For the people that didn’t make it onto this album, we will make sure that they make it onto the next one called “Engelbert Redialed”. But that is down the road and preparation is the hardest work.
MG: In your current touring, do you plan on covering any of these duets?
EH: Oh, it is already in the show. I do a virtual debut with Elton John. It is going over absolutely fantastic and people are loving the idea of it.