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Robbie Williams, what can you say about him. He's been around for years and love him or hate him you have to admire some of his work. This album 'Swing When You're Winning' came out back in 2001 and was something a little different. Most of the songs are covers and there are some interesting duets on there as well. Here is what I think of each of the songs:
1. I Will Talk Hollywood Will Listen - A brilliant start to the album. I really like this song and the words are excellent. Robbie is excellent and really makes the song hos own. This is typical Robbie, strong, arrogant and powerful. Very good start to the album. 5/5
2. Mack The Knife - A classic song and Robbie really does well with this one. Its hard to cover such a massive song without ruining it, but Robbie does fine. 4/5
3. Something Stupid - This has to be one of the most bizarre duets ever. Robbie and Nichol Kidman! But it does kind of work, Kidman actually has quite a good voice and they do the song justice. Its not one of my favourites on the album but its worth a listen. 3/5
4. Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me - I'm not a huge fan of the original of this song but Robbie does a decent version. So I will give it a 3/5
5. It Was A Very Good Year - A classic. A slow song with some excellent vocals. Robbie is helped about by the legend that is Frank Sinatra which really makes this song even better. To be honest Frank really shows how these songs should be sung and puts Robbie to shame. 4/5
6. Straighten Up And Fly Right - Not my favourite song but a decent job again by Robbie. Its hard to change your mind on one you have never liked. 2/5
7. Well Do You Evah - Another strange duo. Robbie teams up with Jon Lovitz. This is a quality song and the two really go well together, I like this one and think its a really fun song. One of the best ones on the album for me. 4/5
8. Mr Bojangles - Another amazing song and Robbie does it justice. I have always liked this song so was slightly worried when I found out he was covering it. But he does a really stand up job and its another classic on this album! 5/5
9. One For My Baby - A song again that I'm not really a big fan of. Its a little slow and boring for me and does very little for me. 2/5
10. Things - Well its just gets more bonkers. Jane Horrocks of all people! But again it works really well and this is a real feel good happy song. It makes me want to get up and dance and I like the banter in the song between the two singers. 4/5
11. Ain't That A Kick In The Head - This is a big sounding song. Robbie really goes for it in this one and it sounds very good. Although its not really one of my favourites on the album. 3/5
12. They Can't Take That Away From Me - Rupert Everett on this one, am not that keen on his voice really, its just isn't that good. An average song and one that I don't think they did justice. 2/5
13. Have You Met Miss Jones? - Not a song I really enjoy. There is nothing really wrong with it but it just does not quite do it for me. But its worth a listen. 3/5
14. Me And My Shadow - Jonathan Wilkes duets on this one. The two work quite well together and its a nice little song. Some good sounds and a real big feel to it. Some funny moments in here as well that I like. 4/5
15. Beyond The Sea - Robbie finishes with a real classic. This is one of the biggest swing songs ever and sounds great. I really like this one and think its good that he finishes with a high.
Overall this is a pretty good album. Robbie covers some classic songs and in most cases does them very well. There are a few songs that I'm not to keen on but then that always the way. This is something really different from Robbie and the only album of his that I own! If you have never heard this its well worth a listen!
The King of Swing?
Robbie takes a step away from his Take That/Angels type music and moves into the relm of old school Hollywood, smooth, lounge singer type songs and does it work?
Robbie Williams was one fifth of the successful boy band group Take That. Robbie as actually only 15 years old when he started with Take That in 1989. He left in 1995 to launch his solo career. He was extremely successful as a solo artist and you could say it was the best career move he made. According to an article I read, as a solo artist, he has sold more albums in the U.K than any other British solo artist in history and has won more BRIT Awards than any other artist to date. His album sales stands at over 55 million worldwide. Williams entered in The Guinness Book of World Records when he announced his World Tour for 2006, selling 1.6 million tickets in one single day.
With the reformational of Take That it must seem to Robbie like he is missing out as his career has kind of stalled as of late. The boys are so successful now and don't really need Robbie anymore although he is said to be on speaking terms with the rest of the boys now. He has had his problems with alcohol and depression among other things but hopefully these are things of the past.
Swing when you're winning is classified as a jazz album. It was released in 2001. Apparently Robbie has been a life long Sinatra fan so I can see why recording an album like this would definitely be something he would be interested in. The song "It Was a Very Good Year", is actually a duet with Frank Sinatra himself which was achieved by Williams singing the first two verses, and a recording of Sinatra's vocals on the third and fourth verses. There is also a duet he performs with Nicole Kidman, Somethin' Stupid.
I did like this album and you can definitely hear the uniqueness of Robbie's voice on all the tracks as I think he has quite a distinctive voice however if I wanted to listen to these classic songs such as Mack the Knife etc I think I probably prefer the originals. HAving said that though it does have a nice mix of songs and is well done.
The album was certified as 7x Platinum in the UK. The rest of the track listings are as follows:
1. "I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen"
2. "Mack the Knife"
3. "Somethin' Stupid" (with Nicole Kidman)
4. "Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me"
5. "It Was a Very Good Year" (with Frank Sinatra)
6. "Straighten Up and Fly Right"
7. "Well, Did You Evah!" (with Jon Lovitz)
8. "Mr. Bojangles"
9. "One for My Baby"
10. "Things" (with Jane Horrocks)
11. "Ain't That A Kick In The Head?"
12. "They Can't Take That Away from Me" (with Rupert Everett)
13. "Have You Met Miss Jones?"
14. "Me and My Shadow" (with Jonathan Wilkes)
15. "Beyond the Sea"
Swing When You're Winning - Robbie Williams
Okay, my last two reviews have been smooth jazz and hard jazz, time for a bit of swing. I have to say I feel pretty qualified to comment on this album for I have it in 3 different ways:
1. Downloaded from iTunes
2. I have the sheet music for Alto saxophone
3. I have the backing tracks to play along too
Now clearly Mr Williams is a popster, having sung and danced with one of, if not the most successful boy bands Take That. He has also gone on to carve out an incredibly successful solo career.
Swing when You're winning was the next album to be released after 'Sing when you're winning', clever so and so and is a homage to some of the big band swing numbers that Robbie purports to enjoy. Released in 2001.
1. I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen
2. Mack the Knife
3. Somethin' Stupid" (with Nicole Kidman)
4. Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me
5. It Was a Very Good Year (with Frank Sinatra)
6. Straighten Up and Fly Right"
7. Well, Did You Evah! (with Jon Lovitz)
8. Mr. Bojangles
9. One for My Baby
10. Things" (with Jane Horrocks) (Bobby Darin) - 3:22
11. Ain't That a Kick in the Head
12. They Can't Take That Away from Me (with Rupert Everett)
13. Have You Met Miss Jones?
14. Me and My Shadow" (with Jonathan Wilkes)
15. Beyond the Sea
I'm not going to discuss each and every song as, to be honest, some are quite pale imitations of the originals, and one cannot but compare them to said originals. I think he has a damn cheek for instance to do a virtual duet with Frank Sinatra.
One or two tracks do stand out however and are very well suited to Robbie Williams voice and style.
~~~~Mack the Knife~~~~
This is actually a very good rendition and we get to hear his voice a little lower than in many of his pop songs and he does a good job, crisp, clear and believable. He really does seem to suit this and the music does not drown him out as it does on some tracks.
I have to say, just listening to it seems to show its mediocrity, but after watching the video that went with it, it seems impossible to separate the two. One of the classic pop video's in my opinion, for that reason the association makes the song stronger. Ultra cheesy as duets go, and this is its charm.
~~~~Me and my Shadow~~~~
Memorable as he gets his bessie mate to duet with him, not bad, not good, I like the fun element which comes through in his voice. Though to be honest it aint the best rendition and sounds a bit karaoke like.
~~~~Beyond the Sea~~~~
Now he actually sings this really, really well and his voice matches the music perfectly, best song on the album for me. He sings it slower than my favourite rendition, which is Bobby Darin, but what he does do well is change key in his voice, with the music, and there are a lot of key changes and 'accidentals' in this piece.
~~~Awful song alert~~~
I must mention Mr. Bo jangles, Williams is just not believable singing this. If you ever get the chance to listen to Sammy Davies Jr singing this you will now what I mean. When he sings it I end up in tears, when Williams sings it I want the sick bag!!
Not the best album in the world, and certainly, though he has a good voice, it cannot hope to compete with big bands and orchestras. My advice, buy single tunes if you like them, the album as a whole aint worth paying for, I should know, I did. Though to get Beyond The Sea, you have to buy the album from iTunes.
However, I am glad I bought the sheet music and backing tracks, I certainly use them more than I do listen to Robbie.
i am a huge robbie fan i have been since his take that days. when i heard he had done this album i was abit dubious about it but being a true robbie fan i brought it. I was utterly suprised it is fantastic. He sang the songs well and had a few guest singers such as jane horrocks to duet with him. this album proves that robbie can turn his hand to any style of music and is worth every penny.
I love Robbie, he is like a good wine, matures with age and just keeps on getting better. Whose had the last laugh now Take That! Swing when your winning is a great chill out CD. Even my son knows the words to Mr Bojangles and he is only 5! Its very relaxing and very calm. For all age ranges too, from my son to his grandmother. My mum actually commented on how good it was, then when I said it was Robbie Williams, she said "ooh no, not that take that chappie on drugs and geri halliwell!" I bought Escaplogy at Christmas but found it hard to get into. This isnt half as brilliant as Swing. The only track I like is his current one in the chart - Feel. Swing is worth buying but try to borrow escaplogy before you spend your money on it.
Personnally, I have always been a fan of Robbie, and appreciated all the solo songs he has released since leaving Take That. When my girlfriend bought me the swing when your winning album, no surprise I was very happy. However, after listening to his album a few times and comparing it with the older ones such as Life Through A lense. It definately came off the worst! Robbies always had a talent for releasing ground breaking songs. So why, I wander does he do an album of covers? The reason, he has explained himself is simple, that music has always been his favourite, the likes of Frank Sinatra were his idol as, is he the idol of many growing children today. This album was a sort of dedication to that whole era. All I hope is that after the success of this album he doesn't continue to cover songs, stick with what hes best at, setting standards for great songs, so other artists compare their songs with his, new material. One idea is, as he loves the swinging songs so much, why not write songs along those lines and make Frank who is up their laughing at us now, smile as a new generation learn to appreciate this music in a whole new light
So yet another image re-incarnation but a jump back in time for Robbie. The singing was sought of reminiscent "of the ole crooners" but he did not quite pull it off on a few numbers. I was very surprised that he attempted such a risky venture and the cynical might think he jumped on the 50s renaisance bandwagon. My favourite track has to be "Mr Bojangles" closely followed by "It was a very good year", what a killing getting Frank on the track. Well Robbie what's next? New Romantics or The beatles songs? It was a good album if not too commercial, how about some of yer own numbers next time. Conclusion Nice try, loadsa money, but worth a listen if you are into the oldee numbers.
Introducing yet another lens for us to view him through, Robbie Williams offers proof beyond doubt that he is only truly comfortable in the full glare of the spotlight. Although playing a part in a boyband was a necessary evil for this intensely individual artist, it was only ever intended as a stepping stone to what he has gone on to achieve. However, having spent so much time and effort in cultivating ‘Robbie the Ego’, he readily dispenses with the need for creating characters, choosing instead to pay homage to some genuine legends. Perhaps it is no coincidence that, shortly after failing to fulfil his ultimate dream of starring in a Bond film, Robbie has found another excuse to give the dinner jacket an airing; he certainly looks the part but full credit is due for the reverence and imagination prevalent in his tribute to Sinatra, Martin, Darin et al. Many of Robbie’s fiercest critics condemned him for a perceived lack of talent when he resorted to releasing a cover version for his first solo venture; how sweet the irony must be for him, now that he can put out a whole album of other artists’ songs to rich acclaim. He has travelled so far in the last few years that almost anything he turns his hand to is guaranteed success, but that does not detract from the fact that he has genuinely accomplished something remarkable with Swing When You’re Winning. Just as his charming persona is ideally suited to strutting around the Albert Hall stage in a tuxedo, his voice fits the songs from the golden age of the dance hall like a glove. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ -- "...his voice fits the songs from the golden age of the dance hall like a glove." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ -- 'Mack the Knife', the timeless classic from Brecht and Weill’s The Beggar’s Opera, has bee
n performed by some of the truly great and legendary vocalists. To say that Williams’ rendition is comparable to those of Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin would be getting carried away; in truth it really isn’t that far behind them, and that alone is a measure of how good the album is. Further indication of Robbie William’s artistic maturity can be taken from his performance on 'Somethin’ Stupid'; a sublime duet with the ubiquitous Nicole Kidman. Considering her own outstanding display of vocal dexterity in Moulin Rouge, it is the highest praise possible when she says that Robbie’s encouragement helped her through the live performance of the song. They are a visually striking couple but the true beauty is found in the mutual harmony they create with two very different vocal ranges. It is probably foolish to be surprised by Robbie Williams making a success out of unlikely circumstances. Getting used to the idea that he can pull off a project such as this though, is still not ample preparation for the manner in which he performs Duke Ellington’s 'Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me'. Williams’ voice is simply stunning and, aided by a rocking brass band, it becomes something he may well never surpass in his career; it is certainly the finest moment of it thus far. The other highlight of this compilation is another duet; this time with Frank Sinatra himself. It may not be the first time that technology has enabled the living and the dead to perform together, but its utilisation for 'It Was a Very Good Year' is a perfect example of art and science uniting for the common good. Swing When You’re Winning is not a gimmick album through which Robbie Williams seeks to cash in. It has been a long and often uncomfortable journey for him to attain a position from which to attempt something as bold as this, but his combined talent, dedic
ation and belief make it a resounding success. Harold Jones, drummer with the Count Basie Orchestra, is gloriously succinct in proclaiming, "the kid really gets the swing thing."
Well, what can i say, i love this album! Since seeing robbie perform all these tracks at the albert hall, i fell under its spell. I was never really one for the oldies, like frank sinatra and the others, but this is magical. The way that he performs all the tracks with his subtle humour, is magical. My favourite track has to be, well all of them. With his smoothe tones, and his silky sexy voice, u canot possibly hate any of these tracks! Also apering on the CD, is jane horrex (very small part but very good) Jonathon wilkes (also fantstc) and some others. You wil love this CD if; you love robbie williams as i do, you love the oldies, or you want smething mellow and catchy to listen to. Best listening to; when driving, when having a romantic meal, when making out, or when chilling out! Just an all round great album! I strongly reccomend you to buy it!
Never having rated Mr William's music very much before, I listened to his latest offering expecting to be disappointed. The cheeky chappy had chosen to cover some of the greatest tunes of all time, how could he possibly do them justice? After all whatever your personal feelings on Robbie, he would be the first to admit he ain't no Frank Sinatra. The whole idea of Swing When You're Winning seemed like the ultimate in self-indulgence on Robbie's part. I am therefore surprised, and yes if am honest, a little gutted to admit this album is actually fab. Williams proves his talents as a crooner ? making an admirable job of covering songs which vary in range and tempo. He may never live up to the vocal talents of his heroes, Rat Packers such as Ol' Blue Eyes, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr, but you get the feeling he already knows that and this is all just a bit of fun. The outstanding track, and by far the classiest, is his duet Somethin' Stupid with actress Nicole Kidman. He also teams up with Sinatra himself (due to the magic of studio mixing) on It Was a Very Good Year; with musical actress Jane Horrocks on a passable version of Things and with Rupert Everett on They Can't Take That Away From Me. This is a collection of top class tunes sung by a very likeable 'second' class singer ? but having said that Robbie's revival of these classics may just win over some new fans. So why not?
Were do I start with this great album? I am a Robbie fan anyway I should warn you but I can also be very critical too-so lets start from the top. Robbie decided to do something different with his singing-just before he decided to do this album he was quoted as saying "I'm killing off the old Robbie". Well I must admit I was worried. All his other stuff has been great in my humble opnion and I wasnt sure if changing his style was going to do him any justice but you have to be open minded dont you? Well he finally released Swing when you're winning and I was blown away with his swing covers of the old classics and one new song he co-wrote. Here's the run down of all the songs and what i think of each one: I Will Talk And Hollywood Will Listen A great start to the album with a new track co-written by Robbie and his writing partner Guy Chambers. A big band start but with an original feel. Robbie sings " Mr spielberg look at what you're missing" trying to say that he's the next best thing-very clever. Mack The Knife Orignally made popular by Bobby Darin,Robbie puts his own mark on this classic-one of my favourites i think. Somethin' Stupid A duet with Nicole Kidman this is one of the weaker songs on the album, Nicoles voice not really up to scratch in my opnion but Robbie shining through on his vocals. Do Nothin Till You Hear From Me Originally performed by Duke Ellington a very old time swing song-Robbie making it interesting with his modern voice. IT Was A Very Good Year Probably my fave on the album a clever intwined performance from Robbie and the original swing master Frank Sinatra. Robbie takes the lead in the song until when he was 35 when Frank takes over-cleverly done with singing of the ages as Robbie is only 28 and of course Frank had a whole lifetime-great stuff. Straighten Up and Fly
Right A Nat King Cole song originally-not one of my faves but Robbie gives it a nice feel. Well Did You Evah Robbie duets with funnyman actor Jon Lovitz in a great remake of the High Society hit by Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby with some funny adlibs from Robbie and Jon thrown in for good measure. Mr Bojangles A big performance for Robbie on this cover of the Sammy Davis jnr track he does this one justice another strong song on the album. One for My Baby Originally sung by Frank Sinatra and also playing with Robbie the original pianist Bill Miller which gives it a nice reminicent feel to it. Things Robbie teams up with Jane Horrocks on this Bobby Darin original making it a nice duet with them having a little banter with each other at the end of the song. Ain't That A Kick In The Head Robbies "personal Fave" song a hit orignally for Dean Martin another well done cover. They Can't Take That Away From Me Robbie duets with Rupert Everett on this Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers original- Rupert giving this song a nice touch. Have You Met Miss Jones? Itentionally meant just for the soundtrack of Bridget Jones' Diary Robbie liked it so much he wanted it on this album and so he should! Originally sung by Frank Sinatra this is another fave of mine with Robbies swing style voice shining through. Me And My Shadow Robbie duets with his best mate and flate mate Jonathan Wilkes-great cover of a Frank and Sammy classic. Some great adlibs and laughter through the song Robbie says "they could have wrote this song about us"-ahhhhhh. Beyond The Sea Another Bobby Darin classic was classed as a smoochy love song in its day-Robbie gives it his all in this great cover. This album was recorded with The London Session Orchestra-mostly in Capitol records in L.A where frank rec
orded his songs and proves that Robbie can sing any style of music be it old or new. If you havent bought this yet (or borrowed it I cant make you buy it can I!?) then what are you waiting for If you wasnt A Robbie fan before you sure will be now. Come back and let me know if I was right!
Before I go into the details of what and why I think this album is so great, let me put the record straight. I hate Robbie Williams, as a pop singer, as a person and until now had no time for anything he said or did. Then came Swing While Your Winning. I was born in 1960, to a family who never were great music lovers. I recall that we had a radiogram at one time and the one song I remember coming out of that was Mack the Knife, i've never forgotten it. When my father died last year we were trying to come up with music for the crematorium, not an easy thing to choose. It had to be just right. We came up with a Frank Sinatra classic, "I did it my way", because it reflected everything my dad was. Sorry I am digressing from the op slightly. The reason for this was that when we were choosing the music we listened to many oldies and at, 40 years old, I decided that I now enjoyed listening to it, it gave me something which at the time I couldn't pinpoint. So back to Robbie. My daughter and future son-in-law brought it for me for Christmas, why I don't know. When I asked if I could play it on Christmas Day (the first christmas without my father) there were moans and groans, yuk, fuddy duddy, not today, etc. But I played it for the first time, on christmas morning and me and my mum cried and cried, it seemed to bring back the memories of my dad. We played up to track 4, that was enough, we couldn't listen anymore. The cd didn't come out again until New Years Day, I played it right through and strangely enough although it bought back memories of my Dad they were good ones. Robbie William has a great presence when performing these songs, he really becomes the original artist. He puts his heart and soul into them all, it is a jo to listen to. There are 15 tracks in all on the CD, a mixture of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and others. A couple of duets and a new one writ
ten and sung by Robbie Williams. Track 1 - I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen. This written by Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers and sung by Robbie. To hear this you would think it was from the 50s. Track 2 - Mack the Knife. Originally sung by such greats as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Darin and Louis Armstrong. Robbie gives it his own slant and it is still as good as ever. Mack is certainly back in town. Track 3 - Somethin Stupid. Originally sung by Nancy and Frank Sinatra. Recently released by Robbie and Nicole Kidman, this duet was a great remake. Track 4 - Do Nothing Till you Hear From Me. I was not familiar with this track. Great performance and brilliant trumpet solo. Track 5 - It was a very good year. Robbie sings with Frank, strange but true. What can I say. Track 6 - Sraighten Up and Fly Right. Originally written by Nat King Cole, although sung brilliantly this is my least favourite track. Track 7 - Well Do You Evah. Originally sung by Frank and Bing the greatest crooners ever. Now sung by the new crooners Robbie and Saturday Night Live's Jon Lovitz. This track comes close in my mind to be as good as the original. Track 8 - Mr Bojangles. Another classic fantastically recreated, it brings tears to your eyes, well it did mine. Track 9 - One For My Baby. Another of Frank's greats. Robbie performs this with Frank's long time pianist Bill Miller. What must he have thought. Track 10 - Things. What a combination Robbie and Jane Horrocks. It works well as a duet and is my second favourite track. Track 11 - Another Kick in the Head. Another unfamiliar track to me. Great performance by Robbie and great musical backing. Track 12 - They Can't Take That Away From Me. A Perry Como track again covered marvelously by Robbie. One of my favourites. Track 13 - Have You Met Miss Jones? Well if you have
watched Bridgit Jones Diary you will have done. Another Sinatra classic and now a hit for Robbie from the film. My joint favourite. Track 14 - Me and My Shadow. No one could match the brilliance of Frank and Sammy's original version, but Robbie and his flatmate Johnathon Wilks give it there best shot. Track 15 - Beyond The Sea. Second or maybe jointly with Have You Met Miss Jones this is my favourite. For some reason it reminds me of tne film Bedknobs and Broomsticks, it must be the sea bit. It certainly brings back great memories. This album has to be the best addition to my CD collection last year. A great buy at between £8.99 (CD WOW) and £11.99 its worth a listen. Memories are certainly made of this, thanks Robbie and Friends.
Robbie's much-vaunted foray into the world of swing music ironically sounds a succession of false notes. Though all of the singing voices are perfectly in tune, a lot of it is out of key. There's the alleged sexual charge of Robbie's duet with Nicole Kidman, which has all the erotic thrill of cold fish (ironically, there's far more chemistry between Williams and Jane Horrocks, or even between him and Jonathan Wilkes, although I probably Shouldn't Even Go There). Equally poor is the horribly flat banter between him and Wilkes. A hint for the future, Bob, is that it sounds far more fresh and believable if you actually ad-lib your ad-libs, rather than read them from a script. However, perhaps the worst moment is the bit where Robbie joshes with his musicians that he'd love to see them all again if they 'recoup'. Yes, I'm sure that 'Swing When You're Winning' wasn't cheap to make, but the idea that this was some kind of risky experiment is a joke - the record company's target teenies would buy a album of Robbie gargling if he chose to release it, and the mums and grans who have always had a soft spot for Tunstall's favourite son would lap it up, especially around Christmas time, when most albums are probably presents bought by people who have no idea about the musical tastes of the person who destined to receive the gift. Robbie is like a labrador: jolly, friendly, well-trained and very good at leading the blind (in this case, the musically blind). This album will be bought regardless of whether it is or is not any good. It's quality is irrelevant, and it has to be said that every song is ersatz, a pale imitation of the source. There are two exceptions: the first song 'I will talk and Hollywood will listen', which is original and therefore there's nothing to compare it to (it's a bloody awful song in its own right, though). Meanwhile, the Jane Horrocks duet is an
improvement, though the noise of a dentist's drill is an improvement on Bobby Darin. And yet, as long as you don't take it seriously, there's nothing profoundly wrong with 'Swing when you're winning'. Williams is far better at the clipped jazz style than you would have given him credit for, and he manages to deliver a clean, clear vocal style entirely in keeping with the mood. The version of 'Well, did you evah?' with American comedian Jon Lovitz is superb, effortlessly capturing the exuberant swagger of the Rat Pack. It's not the kind of album I would sit listening to, but when you're doing the washing-up or ironing five work shirts on Sunday afternoon (an activity for which I would happily take valium if it wasn't for the genuine potential for burns and scarring), it's harmless fun. The three things that do make it worthwhile are: 1 The Music Using many of the same musicians who played with Sinatra, the music is genuinely outstanding. Really, no expense has been spared, and the orchestrations and playing are quite phenomenal. Much is made in the sleeve notes about how the players rated Robbie, which is worth considering, but you don?t get swing played with this lavish care and attention very often, and it's worth hearing just for that. 2 The Mood It's true that Robbie is no match for Sinatra or Dino and the duet with Ol' Blue Eyes ('It was a very good year') proves that, but he obviously likes the music, he obviously respects it, and he seems to have put more care into this album than any of his others, and I admire that. 3 The Possibilities Maybe one teenager will buy a Sinatra compilation because of this. Maybe sales of a very good compilation of Sinatra, Dino and Sammy Davis (called 'The Rat Pack') will do well this winter because of Robbie. Swing is almost unique, an example of white people taking a black idiom (jazz) and making
something as soulful and enduring as Charlie Parker and Ella Fitzgerald. If a small proportion of Robbie fans dive into some swing or jazz because they like what they hear, it'll all have been worthwhile. With some significant reservations, this is something slightly stupid which I'd nevertheless recommend.
I must admit that when I saw Robbie's performance at the Royal Albert Hall I wasn't too impressed with his arrogance (see my "to be frank with you" op if you want the full story), and listening once wasn't really enough to pick up the songs. Anyway, being the huge Robbie fan that I am, I ordered "Swing When You're Winning" anyway. I got it this morning and I must say, I much prefer listening to it than watching Rob sing it because as I have already said, I thought he was a little arrogant about songs that aren't his own. Anyway, if I can get round to my point! I think "Swing When You're Winning" is actually a brilliant album! I know this is very contradictory to what I have already said but when I can't see him playing up to the audience in his presumptuous fashion, I can appreciate his voice which is in all honesty, amazing. The album kicks off with "I Will Talk And Hollywood Will Listen". This is Rob's own song and I must say, I think it is one of my favourites. It begins quietly with Robbie singing with quite a high pitch and then it builds up for the chorus. As more and more orchestral intruments (lots of strings) come in the texture thickens to produce a lovely rich sound. This is just a fabulous song and I think it proves that Rob can write swing himself which is just as good, if not better, than all the songs he covers. He can write in his own style and use a lot more originality. An excellent start. The next track is "Mack The Knife" from "The Beggar's Opera" written by Brecht and Weill. This is very well covered by Robbie, it has lots of energy and the brass is brilliant and gives the song a lot of character. With quite a fast tempo, this one certainly gets your toes tapping! Following that is "Somethin' Stupid", the well publicised duet with Nicole Kidman, originally sung by Frank and Nancy Sinatra. Wi
th a lot of strings and little twiddly bits on the guitar, this song is quite and romantic, again a great contrast to the previous two tracks. Although Robbie and Nicole sound good together, for me there's something not quite right about it. This is obviously because I'm comparing it to the original but I think Robbie's voice needs to be a little more dominant, as Frank's was (although Frank's pitch was a lot lower making it more of a contrast with Nancy's). "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me" is next. This is a new one for me and I absolutely love it. It has a brilliant jazzy style with some fantastic brass sounds. The gentle percussion gives the song a good rhythm and Robbie's voice melts in well with the sound. There is a lovely trumpet solo as well, which adds a lot to the song. This is one which will get you up and dancing! "It Was A Very Good Year" is next. Now, I must be honest with you, I think it was a bit stupid of Robbie to record it "with Frank". The song starts well, with Robbie sounding pretty good, taking the verses for 17 and 21. Then Frank comes in for 35, after hearing Frank's verses, the contrast between his voice and Robbie's becomes more blindingly obvious than you could imagine it to be! Although Robbie can sing very well, his voice just isn't as experienced as Frank's is and it makes Robbie seem...almost amateur in comparison. This probably sounds really harsh but with the two voices side by side, Frank's rises above Robbie's quite a lot. A good song, but I think it needs to be all Robbie as there is a quality division between his verses and Frank's. "Straighten Up And Fly Right" is the next track. Originally by Nat "King" Cole, this song is covered by Robbie well. There is a great melody which is predominantly brass, the saxophone is especially good! Although it is not a particularly loud, thick textured song
it still has a lot of character and is a real toe tapper. Following "Straighten Up And Fly Right" is "Well, Did You Evah". Robbie covers Frank and Bing's party piece with Jon Lovitz. This is a really brilliant song but it took quite a while for me to really get into it. It is basically Robbie and Jon having a good old gossip at a party. It's fairly quiet for the first couple of minutes with mainly strings playing the tune and Robbie and Jon talking over the top and harmonising with each other. Then the tempo picks up and there is a loud brass bit followed by a really quirky part, it could be on a Tom and Jerry chase or something! It has a real cartoony quality to it. Then the texture thins out back to the way it was at the beginning before the tempo picking up slightly for the end to the song, it finishes on a real high with loads of energy. A wicked song but don't dismiss it on its first listen, after three or four plays you'll love it! "Mr Bojangles" is next. This song is quite a mood changer after "Straighten Up and Fly Right". It starts quietly and is quite serene. Robbie comes in whistling before breaking into gentle singing. There is a lovely piano harmony with some quiet brass and calming percussion keeping the rhythm. Of course about three-quarters of the way through, there is a part where the tempo picks up and all the brass comes in to accompany Rob's louder singing. Yet the song finishes the same way it began, quietly and quite movingly. "One For My Baby" follows on. It continues with the serene style set by "Mr Bojangles". Robbie performs this with Bill Miller on the piano, who played Frank's original version. This is the only instrument used for the main body of the song apart from Robbie's voice. A fantastic bluesy sound is produced and is joined later on by a saxophone. It is a really calming song and brilliant to relax to. In
typical Robbie style, the tempo picks up again for the next track - "Things". This is a duet with Jane Horrocks and has a really cheerful melody. The tempo is pretty upbeat with some great piano and brass. For the most part, Jane echoes Rob's last word for each line and joins in on the chorus with him. This is a marvellous song, it'll make you want to get up and dance! At the end, Jane and Robbie have a conversation as if the song has finished, telling each other that they were rubbish. It ends with Robbie saying "Look you started this on your last album and I don't want to have anything to do with it I'm going goodbye"! Very enjoyable to listen to! Dean Martin's "Ain't That A Kick In The Head" follows. This one also has a lot of character. My favourite part of this song is the brass bassline, it's got a nice rumble to it! There is a great rhythm and loads of brass joining in as well. Another one to dance to! "They Can't Take That Away From Me" is the next track. Robbie performs this with Rupert Everett. To be honest I don't like this one quite as much as the others. It has some brilliant thick instrumental interludes with a rich texture but the melody just doesn't appeal to me as much. It's only more average in comparison to the rest of the album though, on it's own it would bring the house down! The classic "Have You Met Miss Jones" follows. Most Robbie fans will probably already have heard this from Bridget Jones. This song was the inspiration for "Swing When You're Winning and it has a great melody which Robbie sings very well. After the initial grand opening, Robbie's singing actually brings the tempo and grandeur down a bit but as always with swing music, later on the brass and percussion come in to give the song loads of energy. Marvellous and fun to listen to. "Me And My Shadow" is Rob's duet with J
onathan Wilkes. Now, after seeing Jonathan Wilkes release a record after we all learnt how he was Robbie's flatmate, I for one thought that he was trying to get success through Rob. Yet surprisingly enough, he sings very well. The song has a very genuine feel, and as Robbie said - "The song really could have been written about us". You can hear the enjoyment in the lads' voices and as they are having such a great time, it really increases how much you yourself enjoy listening to it. The harmonising is fantastic and Robbie doesn't try and take advantage or all the credit over his flatmate, as some celebrities may try to do. Neither voice is more dominant and they both sound brilliant together. There is a part just before the end where Robbie and Jonathan have a funny conversation, well I think it's funny anyway! This'll be bound to make your face crack into a smile when you hear it as as I said before, you can hear the genuity in the lads' voices. This is a sensational song and great to see performed live as well. The very last track is "Beyond The Sea". After "Me And My Shadow", I think that it is a bit of a let-down considering it is the last song on the album. Although the melody is pretty good, the album doesn't go out with a bang like you would expect it to after hearing the rest of the album. This is a good song but it doesn't really compare to some of the others, I think that Robbie could have selected one with more energy to finish with. But that's just my opinion! Now, as he has done before, Robbie has added some bonus bits to the end of the album. At about 26 minutes through "Beyond The Sea", a selection of extracts play, things such as bits which have gone wrong and Robbie's conversations with people. It is a fun way to finish and gives the listener the impression that Robbie is having the time of his life and is certainly swinging while he's winning.
Swing When You’re Winning I first became aware of the existence of this album a couple of weeks ago. I was in my car, driving to work, when the old Nat King Cole track “Straighten Up and Fly Right” came on the radio. It obviously wasn’t Nat King Cole singing but I couldn’t work out who it was. At the end of the song I was amazed to hear the presenter, possibly Ken Bruce I can’t remember, announce that it was a track from the new Robbie Williams album. Later that week I heard, on a couple of occasions, the duet with Nicole Kidman, which has been released as a single, “Somethin’ Stupid”. On hearing both these songs I remember thinking “Well, Robbie’s finally done it, he’s turned into the showman we all knew he could be. Having heard these tracks I saw the CD when I was ordering some others at CD-Wow (only £8.99!!) and immediately pre-ordered it “Well” I thought “I’ll give it a go, see whether it’s any good”. On Saturday night I then saw the concert from the Albert Hall and was completely knocked out of my seat. I couldn’t wait for my CD to be delivered! I won’t talk much about the concert here as this is a review of the CD, maybe I’ll write a review of the concert if Father Christmas brings me the DVD (I’ve been dropping hints!) but suffice to say Robbie showed great maturity on stage. He has finally grown up and left Take That and the teenage, trouble maker Robbie behind him. I remember, when Robbie first went solo, my boyfriend at the time said “He’s going to be bigger than anyone, he’s a real performer. He’ll end up acting in movies” At the time I couldn’t help agreeing. There was always something about Robbie that was larger than life, he was always much more than “just a singer”. From what I’ve seen of his live shows (I’ve neve
r actually managed to get tickets to one) they are definitely a complete performance. Robbie’s style hearkened back to the old variety performers and the singers of the 50’s and 60’s such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Tom Jones. So it really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to find that he has a passion for the music that they used to sing and has now recorded an album of some of their most famous songs. It’s dedicated to “Frank, Dean and Sammy” (that’s Sinatra, Martin and Davis Jnr for those who don’t know) the original “Rat Pack”. In their day they were as outrageous and wild as Robbie has been and had similarly addictive personalities. He has a lot more in common with them than with any modern day pop-stars. The only question is “Does it work, can Robbie Swing” and the answer is a resounding “Yes, he can!” The album features collaborations with several of today’s stars, Jane Horrocks, Nicole Kidman, Rupert Everett and Robbie’s friend Jonathan Wilkes, and also some of the musicians who worked with Frank Sinatra and the others including Frank’s pianist Bill Miller. The London Session Orchestra brilliantly accompanies Robbie throughout and the songs are some of the greatest ever written from the likes of George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Duke Ellington – let’s face it, how could anyone go wrong with that package! The track listing is as follows – I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen This is the only track on the album that is not a classic “swing” track. It was written by Robbie and his writing partner, Guy Chambers and is a huge orchestral number, which puts you in mind of some great show tune. It has an incredibly catchy melody that you’ll instantly be humming always the sign of a good pop record. The song shows off the range and versatility of Robbie’s vo
ice to the full, from the falsetto of the verse to the strong baritone chorus. The sleeve notes describe this song as a “meditation on the untouchable loneliness and biting ambition of stardom” personally, when I heard Robbie sing this on Saturday night, the impression I had was that this was Robbie sticking two fingers up to Hollywood and saying “Here I am! If you don’t notice me know you will soon” The first line of the song, “I wouldn’t be so alone, if they knew my name in every home” does have a touch of loneliness about it, and some of the sweeping orchestral arrangements are very moving but the chorus, “Mr Spielberg look just what you’re missing” that sounds like arrogant Robbie to me! Mack the Knife Robbie performs this song absolutely perfectly and it’s much better on the CD than it was live. He gives it a truly laid back, finger snapping quality and if your toes don’t start tapping when you listen to this then you must be dead. He borrows a little from two of the most famous performers of this song, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong but also adds a little something extra – a quirky grin? – that is all Robbie. I love this song and it’s probably my favourite track on the album. Somethin’ Stupid This is the first single from the album, a duet with Nicole Kidman, and it’s being talked about as Christmas No 1. It’s actually my least favourite song from the album and I’m disappointed it’s the single as I feel it’s not representative of the album as a whole. Although Nicole and Robbie’s voices work well together and it’s brilliantly arranged and produced (as is the whole album) for me this track lacks the soul and energy that the other songs have. I’m afraid it’s just missing…something… Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me This song has a
great, syncopated rhythm and Robbie really pulls it off. This is what Swing should be, it’s cool, relaxed and smooth. It just makes you want to get out your cocktail dress, grab a handsome partner and hit the dance floor. The trumpet solo is wonderful and really fires up the middle section of the song. As a child who was weaned on jazz I know what a Duke Ellington number should sound like and, though the purists (and my Dad) will jump up and down and scream at me, this is what it should sound like. It Was A Very Good Year What is there to say about this song. For those who don’t know, it’s sung partly by Robbie and partly by Mr Francis Albert Sinatra himself. The story is that, during recording in America, one of the band musicians who had played with Frank Sinatra sent the tapes to Frank’s estate, without Robbie’s knowledge. The estate then contacted Robbie to ask if he’d like Frank to sing on his record, and here is the result. At the live show in the Albert Hall you could feel the atmosphere even through the television when Robbie stopped singing, the big screen behind him came to life with a film of Frank and he started singing. It really does make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It works very well as, for anyone who knows the song, Robbie sings the first two verses, which start “When I was 17…” and “When I was 21…” and then Frank sings the last two “When I was 35…” and “Now I’m old and grey…” This works so well because, let’s face it, Robbie isn’t old & grey so he couldn’t sing those verse with any real conviction. Not wishing to sound trite or corny but it’s almost like Robbie saying, “When I grow up, I want to be Frank Sinatra” My husband commented, whilst we were watching the show on Saturday, that he shouldn’t have done it as it just served to show how
much better Frank Sinatra’s voice is than his. I think it works and just shows how good Robbie’s voice is that he can actually hold his own in close proximity to one of the best singers we’ve ever known. Straighten Up and Fly Right This was the first track I heard from the album and it really knocked me over. It’s a Nat King Cole song and coming from Robbie it sounds like a statement of intent somehow “Straighten Up and Fly Right” – looks like he’s going the right way to do that. Well Did You Ever? I love the original version of this as performed by Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby so was prepared to be disappointed or to have, at best, a weak impression of those two. I wasn’t disappointed, it’s very well done by Robbie and Jon Lovitz (Saturday Night Live). They both have the comic timing needed to carry this off. Mr Bo Jangles This is another spine tingler, especially when it was performed on stage with a tap dancer under a single spot being Robbie under another spot on an otherwise blacked out stage. The song itself is very moving and Robbie puts in all the emotion needed. I defy anyone to listen, and I mean really listen to this, and not shed a little tear. You’ll be humming this for ages, or whistling the intro/outro to the annoyance of your friends and family. Even the part where “Bo Jangles” is “talking” and Robbie puts on a gravely voice works and what could be corny isn’t it’s just very touching. As Robbie says in the sleeve notes “especially the part where the dog dies” One for My Baby To quote Mr Robbie Williams from his live show “Assume the position of a bartender”. This is just Robbie, leaning against a piano, cigarette in one hand and glass in the other. More than any of the other songs on the album it shows his voice can really hold a tune. Listening to th
is late at night with a glass of brandy was a very relaxing experience. The piano on this track is brilliant but I guess it should be played, as it is, by Frank Sinatra’s pianist, Bill Miller, who is now 84 and still has fingers of gold. It almost feels as though it’s Robbie’s voice accompanying Bill’s piano playing. At the end of the track there’s a pause and then Robbie says “Wow” and you can just hear Bill Miller saying “Is that the idea?” to which Robbie replies “Yeah, that’s the general idea”. I said “wow” too. Things This is very different to all the other songs on the album. It’s sung as a duet with Jane Horrocks and is almost like the sort of comedy duets you used to get years ago – like Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren singing “Goodness, gracious me” It’s a quirky little song with lots of comic asides and it finishes with a “conversation” between the two singers in which they complain about how badly the other had performed Jane “Why did you do it like that, that were rubbish” Robbie “Well you came in wrong, and it just went downhill from there” Jane ”Well you told me to think of Kylie while I were singing” Robbie “You obviously weren’t thinking of Kylie were you? June Whitfield maybe but not Kylie………” I ends with Robbie walking out and slamming the door. A truly funny record but also very well performed musically. The comedic elements don’t detract from the fact that they both have good voices and Jane’s clear crystal voice complements Robbie’s perfectly. Aint That a Kick In The Head This is anpther swinging, toe-tapping tune and Robbie belts it out with plenty of energy. Not quite Dean Martin but very close. You can almost hear him grinning as he sings. This is an upl
ifting tune anyway and it has a real feel good vibe. They Can’t Take That Away From Me Yes, Rupert Everett can sing (as well as act and generally look gorgeous) and his voice contrasts well with Robbie’s. The lad from Stoke and the ultimate public schoolboy. It works because they both have that underlying tone of arrogance and they both have a laid back manner. But then, with a song by Gershwin, who could go wrong? Have You Met Miss Jones When I saw Bridget Jones’ diary I didn’t realise that this was being sung by Robbie Williams, I still didn’t twig when I saw him sing it in the live show. It wasn’t till I read the sleeve notes of the album that I realised he’s recorded it for the soundtrack. It was recording that song that inspired him to record a whole album of swing, You can hear his love for the tune in the way he sings it, and he’s really enjoying himself. Me & My Shadow Famously performed by Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jnr this song is faithfully re-recorded by Robbis and his friend/flatmate Jonathan Wilkes. They have quite similar voices and at times it’s difficult to distinguish which is singing but Robbie’s is the stronger of the two. Again, Robbie’s comic leanings are used to the max with plenty of “ad-libs” thrown in by both singers. It starts with Robbie shouting something in his American “swing” voice and Jonathan Wilkes asking, “Why are you talking like that, we’re both from Stoke?” and Robbie replying “I know, I just can’t help it!” The song pulls you along with a smile on your face and then there’s another comic interlude before the encore with Jonathan trying to persuade Robbie to sing it again “I’ll make you a cup of tea” How English is that!!! The fact that they are friends shines through in this and I can only imagine the may
hem that ensued during recording. Beyond The Sea This is a lovely song to finish on and it’s perfect for Robbie’s voice. It’s the track that most has the feel of an improvised jazz session of all the songs on the album. Robbie seems finally to have found his own style on this track and is no longer aping Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin as he does in some of the earlier tracks on the album. It ends with a true Jazz coda with Robbie and the band improvising to the end, you don’t want it to finish. The Hidden Track Isn’t there always a hidden track these days? I’m sure I’m not the only one who leaves the CD running in the machine on the first play of a new album “just in case”. On this album it’s not actually a song but a series of “out-takes” and off-mike comments in the tradition of films these days. They are actually quite funny and Robbie’s final comment that he’s enjoyed working with the band and “if we recoup I’d love to get together again” is rewarded with a huge round of applause and a sting from the drummer. I think they’ll be recouping. Looking back at this opinion, I’m amazed at how many times I’ve used the words “brilliant” “perfect” “wonderful” It looks like I’ve swallowed a book of superlatives. I’d apologise but I’m afraid that’s how I feel about this album. It is superlative. A collection of wonderful songs sung by a true performer. Robbie – can we do it again ?
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 I Will Talk And Hollywood Will Listen
2 Mack The Knife
3 Somethin' Stupid (with Nicole Kidman)
4 Do Nothing 'Till You Hear From Me
5 It Was A Very Good Year (with Frank Sinatra)
6 Straighten Up And Fly Right
7 Well Did You Evah? (with Jon Lovitz)
8 Mr. Bojangles
9 One For My Baby
10 Things (with Jane Horrocks)
11 Ain't That A Kick In The Head?
12 They Can't Take That Away From Me (with Rupert Everett)
13 Have You Met Miss Jones?
14 Me And My Shadow (with Jonathan Wilkes)
15 Beyond The Sea