BBC television broadcasted a very special program on Christmas eve, Sunday 24th, 2006. It took the concept of posthumous overdubbing one step further.
A press release stated:
“Westlife never sung with Roy Orbison, The Sugababes never sung with Dusty Springfield, Lulu never sung with Marvin Gaye. Until now! On “Duet Impossible” Vernon Kay helps make the musically impossible become possible as some of today’s biggest pop stars get a chance to sing a duet with one of their all time idols. Through the magic of modern technology, stars from yester-year make a comeback from the big gig in the sky and perform live on stage with stars of today. The result are some unique new musical collaborations featuring Roy Orbison and Westlife, Dusty Springfield and Sugababes, Marvin Gaye, Lulu, plus Lulu & McFly, Peggy Lee and Simon Webbe and a moving rendition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” from Eva Cassidy and Katie Melua. We also turn back the clock for Boy George so he can sing “Karma Chameleon” with a younger version of himself from 23 years ago. The programme really does have to be seen to be believed!
The Duet Impossible Title Sequence created by vitamin graphics
The show was produced by carefully researching archive footage featuring stars from the past. Then by isolating the artist - both visually and vocally - from the original footage we were able to superimpose them performing along side pop stars from today. The musical backing tracks were re-recorded and re-mixed allowing us to feature solo’s from both artists as well as sections of the song where they sing together.
Roy Orbison & Vernon Kay
Roy Orbison would have been 70 in 2006. Over 4 decades after his first hit, and almost 20 years since his death, his music lives on, as Westlife sing Oh Pretty Woman “live” on stage in our studio.
At the time of Dusty Springfield’s death, she’d been in show business for over 40 years, and left a collection of work guaranteeing she’ll be remembered as one of Britain’s finest.
On 'Duet Impossible' the Sugababes join forces with Dusty “live” on stage to perform the the classic Dancing In The Streets.
Marvin Gaye rose to fame in the 60’s and he wrote and performed some of the greatest soul and R & B classics spanning three decades. Lulu exploded onto the pop scene at the tender age of 15. She’s the only British female solo artist to appear in the charts for 5 straight decades. Throughout her career she has sung duets with some of the biggest stars in the music industry including, David Bowie, Elton John and Sting - but Lulu never got a chance to sing with Marvin Gaye, she never even met him. Her Duet Impossible is to sing one of Motown’s biggest ever hits, Heard it Through the Grapevine “live” on stage with Marvin Gaye.
The boy’s from McFly perform a Duet Impossible by going back to 1964 to appear alongside 15 year-old Lulu, in the original “video” of Shout.
Eva Cassidy died of cancer 10 years ago when she was just 33. She’d sung all her life but the world only heard her voice after she was gone. She’s since had 3 Number One albums making her one of the great posthumous success stories in music history.
Katie Melua is one of the UK’s biggest selling female artists of the past few years. She was inspired by Eva Cassidy - and even wrote “Faraway Voice” as a tribute to her. Katie’s Duet Impossible was to sing an extremely moving version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow with Eva.
Boy George has been making hits and hitting the headlines for almost 25 years. With his striking looks and his distinctive, soulful voice his band Culture Club dominated the charts on both sides of the Atlantic in the 80’s. His songs remain timeless and our obsession with him as a nation is reflected in his ability to still dominate the front pages of our papers.
Boy George's Duet Impossible was to close the show singing one of his biggest hits - Karma Chameleon - with himself when he was 23 years younger.”
Both black & white and colour archive material had been used. The result was very satisfying, some material couldn’t be used to give the impression that both the original artist and present day performers were on one stage, instead the archived performance appeared on a screen behind the performer.
Wouldn’t it be great it to watch an artist, such as Elton John or Elvis Costello, sing a duet with Jim on ‘Four Walls’ or ‘He’ll Have To Go’ ? Elton is a big Jim Reeves fan who occasionally includes a Jim Reeves song in his show, and Elvis Costello fans frequently asked him if he had ever sang with Jim Reeves. He was so bored by it that he gave one of his albums the title ‘I Never sang With Jim Reeves’. I hope Elvis Costello will take the opportunity and do sing with Jim Reeves!!
I invite British fans to write to the BBC and ask for a ‘Jim Reeves duet’. The address is BBC Television Centre, Wood Lane, London, W12 7RJ.