McDonald Recharges With 'Motown' Set

Former Doobie Brothers frontman Michael McDonald, now signed worldwide with Universal Music International, returned to active chart service in the U.K. yesterday (May 11) as his album "Michael McDonal

Former Doobie Brothers frontman Michael McDonald, now signed worldwide with Universal Music International, returned to active chart service in the U.K. yesterday (May 11) as his album "Michael McDonald Motown" debuted at No. 29 on the U.K. album chart.

The TV-advertised collection of some of his favorite Motown songs represents his best-ever placement in Britain with an original studio album. "Take It to Heart," his only previous chart entry as a soloist in the U.K., reached No. 35 in 1990, although the 1986 compilation "Sweet Freedom" hit No. 6 and 2001's "The Very Best of Michael McDonald" got to No. 21.

Produced by Simon Climie (Eric Clapton), the Motown album fulfills a long-held ambition for McDonald. "For so many years, I'd had people encourage me to do something like this, an old R&B kind of thing," he tells Billboard.com. "Either they'd heard me in a relaxed moment singing that stuff at soundcheck or something. But there was never really the vehicle for that."

"Credit has to be given to Universal," he continues. "This was kind of a pet project in their minds, and when they offered the idea to me, it was one of those 'right place at the right time' kind of things."

McDonald was in Britain all last week for live and promotional work, including a concert for BBC Radio 2 at London's Mermaid Theatre, to be aired in two parts on June 16 and 23. On Friday, he performed at Royal Albert Hall and was joined by seasoned British vocalists Lulu, Jaki Graham, and Hamish Stuart, once of the Average White Band. The artist plays in Copenhagen tonight.

McDonald returns to the U.S. for a May 30-31 engagement with Honolulu Symphony Pops. The new album, due June 24 in the U.S. via Motown, will be supported with a summer tour that kicks off June 28 in Hampton, Va.