Re-imagining the fabled tale of a folklore favourite has been the latest creative challenge for Chris de Burgh.
The compelling result breathes music and lyrical life into a centuries-old and much-loved classic. ‘The Legend of Robin Hood’ finds Chris at his imaginative best, re-telling the story with cinematic vision coupled seamlessly to music of emotional depth and power.
The concept for the 27th studio album by Chris emerged from his involvement in ‘Robin Hood’, a stage musical about the infamous Sherwood Forest nobleman and his band of outlaws. Chris was invited to contribute storylines and melodies to the musical, which will be produced next year in Fulda, Germany, by Spotlight Productions, a theatrical company that has already mounted eight successful musicals. “Since I was writing songs for this,” he explains, “I thought ‘Why not expand the story and put an album out, too?’”
Few artists can lay claim to international success spanning five decades but, beginning with his very first release, Chris de Burgh has achieved just that.
The foundations for a remarkable and durable career were laid back in 1975 with the release of Chris’ debut album, ‘Far Beyond These Castle Walls’, featuring the single, ‘Flying’, which spent 17 weeks at No. 1 in Brazil. Subsequent records, almost in turn, continued to steadily draw in audiences around the world; Scandinavia was early to embrace the vivid story-telling that is Chris' unique talent, South Africa quickly tuned in to his power as a live performer, north America even demanded its own specially compiled greatest hits collection, ‘Best Moves’. In the United States, meanwhile, relentless touring with his management stablemates Supertramp was beginning to establish Chris as a gritty, charismatic stage presence.
Indeed, by 1980, Chris’ global profile had already mushroomed to the point where that year’s album, ‘Eastern Wind’, became one of the biggest-selling albums of all time in Norway. A year later, its follow-up, ‘Man On The Line’, was a Top 30 album in the UK, the US and 20 other countries, while producing the single ‘High On Emotion’, which went to No. 1 in ten European countries.
In many respects, it was this album that opened the door to the enormous success which was to follow, and scale new heights with the arrival of Chris’ 1986 album ‘Into The Light’. It featured the song which established him as a known singer-songwriter around the world. ‘The Lady In Red’, now undeniably an evergreen classic, achieved No. 1 status in 47 countries, including the UK, went to No. 2 in America – and has now sold in excess of 8 million copies. To this day, it remains one of the most played songs on the planet; in America alone, it has subsequently been the recipient of six annual ASCAP (Association of Composers and Publishers) Awards, presented to acknowledge the track as one of the Top 20 most played records in the United States in a period of 12 months.
Come 1990, Chris’ German popularity was such that he was the only international artist personally invited by then Chancellor Kohl to perform at the historic public celebrations marking the re-unification of East and West Germany. This momentous privilege immediately followed sell-out tours of Australia and Japan.
In the intervening years, and on the eve of the Millennium, Chris continued to add new audiences to his vast fan base – from Moscow to Malta, from Singapore to Sarajevo – and, always, to find and embrace new challenges for himself as a musician and a performer.
Throughout the years and across now 22 original studio albums, whether his lyrical – and musical – themes have tackled love and loss or been set against imaginative backdrops created from the past, present or future, the telling of tales is his special gift. Chris’ extensive repertoire of songs has taken his audience on travels through continents, cultures and centuries - in cinematic proportion.
In 2008 Chris recorded his album ‘Footsteps,’ an album which represented a deeply personal and candid appraisal by Chris of songs which have influenced and affected the way he has crafted his own particular musical imprint. Chris selected the songs he recorded by applying three critical principles: he had to love them, have sung them many times before – and, perhaps most relevantly, they had to have inspired him. ‘Footsteps’ crashed into the Top 5 of both the UK and German album charts.
Another fan favourite and UK and German Top 5 album, Chris’ 2010 ‘Moonfleet & Other Stories’, took him on the most ambitious, challenging and evocative journey yet of his long and successful career. With sales of his albums now approaching 50 million worldwide, his unique, filmic slant on musical story-telling raised his singer-songwriter bar to unprecedented new heights.
‘A Better World’ was released on September 23, 2016, a little over three months after the 30th anniversary, on June 1, of the release of Chris’ hugely successful album ‘Into The Light’, which established him as a true, worldwide superstar.
The campaign for a ‘A Better World’ commenced with the release of opening single ‘Bethlehem’, a dynamic rock song reminiscent of the global hit ‘Don’t Pay The Ferryman’, and continued into 2018 and beyond with a world tour that travelled through the UK, Europe, Canada, South Africa and the Middle East.
During 2019, Chris returned to the road, this time taking his ‘Classic Albums’ tour across the UK and Europe and performing two of his most outstanding recordings back to back and in their entirety; his 1986 release ‘Into The Light’ has the been the biggest-selling album of his career, while ‘Moonfleet & Other Stories’, from 2010, the LP he has most enjoyed making.
Re-imagining the fabled tale of a folklore favourite has been the latest creative challenge for Chris. The compelling result breathes music and lyrical life into a centuries-old and much-loved classic.
‘The Legend of Robin Hood’ finds Chris at his imaginative best, re-telling the story with cinematic vision coupled seamlessly to music of emotional depth and power.
The concept for this newest studio album by Chris emerged from his involvement in ‘Robin Hood’, a stage musical about the infamous Sherwood Forest nobleman and his band of outlaws. Chris was invited to contribute storylines and melodies to the musical, which will be produced later during 2021 in Fulda, Germany, by Spotlight Productions, a theatrical company that has already mounted eight successful musicals. “Since I was writing songs for this,” he explains, “I thought ‘Why not expand the story and put an album out, too?’”
“I learned a great deal from ‘Moonfleet’, particularly how to set out a story in sequence,” he says. “If I had a problem advancing the story in song, I’d just go and read the book again. This time, we didn’t have a book. There is no book! I had to create my own story, my own version of this classic tale.
“In my story, Robin Hood is not a hero, but circumstances and injustice to others turned him into the hero that is now known all over the world. He initially comes across as an obnoxious young man in his late teens, but he subsequently shows a different and compassionate side and the qualities of a born leader.”
As has only very recently been suggested by a respected historian, Robin Hood is thought to have been a key target of King John, his son King Henry III and their powerful justiciar (law-maker) Hubert de Burgh – who, almost incredibly, is an ancestor of Chris himself.
Given the inconsistencies concerning the dates in which Robin Hood is thought to have lived, Chris tells his version of the legend as if it were many years after Robin’s death, in the setting of a candle-lit tavern where a small audience has gathered to hear it conveyed by a Story Teller and enacted by his musicians, actors and singers.
It has the romance and magic of a minstrel entertaining and enlightening the listener, and that is precisely what has made Chris so unique and peerless throughout his long career.
Regardless of its central theme, the album stands up on its own as a new collection of vintage Chris de Burgh material, with instant, sing-along crowd-pleasers like ‘Live Life, Live Well’ and ‘Open Your Eyes’.
It includes a new and reworked version of live favourite ‘Light A Fire’ – from his 1982 album ‘The Getaway’ – and the show-stopping, message-bearing anthem ‘Legacy’. “You’ve always got to leave your audience singing and waving their arms in the air,” says Chris, “and I think ‘Legacy’ will do that.”