Engelbert Humperdinck’s 2006 twenty-one song live CD Totally Amazing has just been re-issued on gold metallic vinyl as a double album, from a 2005 concert at the Casino Rama Resort in Orillia, Ontario, sixty miles north of Toronto. The collection is released on Goldenlane Records, part of Los Angeles’ Cleopatra Records.
GOLDMINE: Congratulations on the Totally Amazing double vinyl release and welcome to our 5th annual Goldmine Fabulous Flip Sides interview. Before we get to Totally Amazing, let’s go back to 1980 to your Love’s Only Love album, one of your records which Joel Diamond produced. It included the single “Any Kind of Love at All,” written by Ray Dahrouge, with a touch of a Bee Gees sound, which I love. A live version of the flip side is also on Totally Amazing, “A Chance to Be a Hero,” about seeking to make it, written by Paul Brower, and sounding like something Lionel Richie might have written. I love this one, too.
ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK: It is such a great story because it typifies my life. I started my singing career at the age of seventeen, as the lyric says, “When I was only seventeen, I knew just what I wanted to be. On the stage, on the front page, with the spotlight shining, the spotlight shining on me.” For this person to write the lyric in such a way that it tells my story all these years later is amazing.
Flip side: A Chance to Be a Hero
A side: Any Kind of Love at All
GM: It is amazing. The next song on the live album is “There’s No Good in Goodbye,” originally on your Let There Be Love album. It has a tender opening, which builds to a powerful chorus and an equally powerful ending.
EH: That title rings hard to me now due to the recent passing of Patricia.
GM: Engelbert, like I wrote earlier this year, I am terribly sorry. I know that you and Patricia married in 1964, so for those of us who began buying your records in the 1960s, it was always you and Patricia, to us. Again, I am so sorry. I know how close you were.
EH: Thank you. Oh yeah. It has changed my life. It makes the reading of lyrics a lot different from how I read them prior to this happening. Now the words become more vivid and real, and my expressions are more visible. In depicting these songs, it is like an actor changing to become Marlon Brando, delivering deep impact. I don’t know how it is going to show on stage, because I haven’t done a show yet this year, but I know that I read the lyrics differently now. I’ve always said that I am thespian of song and let’s hope that people like what they are going to see and hear when I return to the road next month.
GM: Let’s talk about another family member, your daughter Louise, who you co-wrote the title song “Totally Amazing” with.
EH: My daughter has been very instrumental in my life. She brings out the young version of what I should be doing, and of course she has a daughter now, Olivia, who is an outstanding singer, at just thirteen, an unbelievable vocal talent. I was delving into songwriting a bit and I was always using the phrase “totally amazing,” so I thought that I should write a song with that phrase. I wrote the line, “Totally amazing, that’s what you are,” and I played it to Louise and her partner Tony Toliver and between them and myself we wrote the song “Totally Amazing.” I believe at some point there will be another version of this song which will be a hit for sure, ha ha.
GM: You feature a lot of your hit songs in the concert. When I put on the second record, it opened with you saying, “This is not my song, but I like it.” It is Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You,” with a wonderful tempo.
EH: My conductor at the time was Jeff Sturges. We no longer have him, but he was very instrumental in my life. We worked together so much, and he knew me like the back of his hand. With arrangements, he could read my mind. Jeff brought me this song and said, “You’ll love this song,” and I did, and of course, I recorded it. Jeff would bring his old tape recorder when we worked together, which was a $30 machine he bought from Radio Shack and I liked it so much that he bought me one, and I still have it to this day, still use it, and it is always a memory of Jeff when I take it out.
GM: What is interesting to me when I listen to that song now, which was recorded in 2005, I am reminded of something you recorded more recently, which is Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are,” from your 2017 The Man I Want to Be album, which we have discussed before.
EH: I think Steve Anderson did an incredible arrangement of that Bruno Mars song, totally different from Bruno’s chart, and I use it on stage so much. It is very effective.
GM: Another song from the album, which I learned first from someone else, is “Too Young.” I know it is older than Donny Osmond, but I was introduced to it through his 1970s Top 40 record. Your version is wonderful.
EH: I learned it from Nat King Cole’s record, seventy years ago, “They try to tell us we’re too young.” I love that particular song. When it was brought up for me to record it on my Love Unchained album with the great arranger Bebu Silvetti, who is probably the greatest string arranger God has ever created, who I did five albums with, it was a joy working with a musician of that quality. I miss him so much, because in today’s world you are always looking for a great arranger, and I miss the ones who I have used in the past.
GM: Going back to the Nat King Cole era, filled with standards, “I Wish You Love,” is also on the album, which sounds like a romantic movie song for a Valentine’s Day.
EH: Oh yeah. I was in Paris with a friend of mine, Frank Namani, who owns a clothing business, and we were sitting, having dinner at this restaurant and three violinists came along and start playing “I Wish You Love.” Frank said to me, “Why don’t you sing it for the people?” I said, “I can’t sing in a restaurant.” He said, “The people will love it.” So, I started singing “I Wish You Love” with the three romantic violins playing and who should be sitting at the next table but Charles Trenet, who wrote the song. It was so wonderful to know that a legendary writer like that was sitting at the next table while I am busking in a restaurant. I enjoyed it so much and it prompted me to continue to sing that wonderful song in my show.
GM: The album ends in a patriotic way with “Columns of Gray,” including bagpipes, which must have been something to see in the show. Wow! What a finale.
EH: This was written by one of my guitar players who I have used in the past, Mike Egan, and he was originally from Scotland, and he is a wonderful man, a great talent, a great guitarist, and has a flair for writing great songs. He lived in Belgium and saw all the graves in Germany and decided to write this song. I told him I loved it so much, that I wanted to sing it, and did a video of it as well. It is a reminder of what went on in the past. I used it in my show for quite some time and now it has come out on this vinyl release, and probably my first vinyl album in thirty years. If you go to a shop now, turntables are in the front and CD players are in the back. Everyone is buying record players again.
GM: Going back to the original vinyl era, there is a string of songs at the beginning of the concert album where I just love the order, “Am I That Easy to Forget,” “The Last of the Romantics,” “A Man Without Love,” which comes through with a fun bounce, and then “After the Lovin’,” which I certainly remember from late night radio in the mid-1970s. It is a wonderful sequence.
EH: I am pleased with the variety. “You Make My Pants Want to Get Up and Dance” is a fun song. That was done many years ago by a rock group. Do you remember them?
GM: Yes, it was Dr. Hook, from their album Pleasure & Pain. We would play that album and your Last of the Romantics at the record store where I worked in 1978.
EH: Yes. You are right. You’ve got a great memory, my gosh.
GM: You were given a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire award on Queen Elizabeth’s birthday this year. Congratulations.
EH: Thank you. I am so grateful. They are behind at The Royal Palace in physically giving out the honors due to the pandemic. Thank you again for this annual visit and all your support of my music.