Williams-Swing When Your Winning
should be no total surprise that British pop
phenomenon Robbie Williams would end up doing an
album of all covers (okay, there is one original
here, but it is written to be a piece with the other
songs chosen). After all, Williams old band Take
That made their name in Europe with remakes of
several 70s hits. On his breakthrough solo album
The Ego Has Landed, arguably the best song was a
delicately beautiful remake of World Partys "Shes
What is something of an eye-opener is that
Williams would use his third solo platter as a
full-bore tribute to the Rat Pack (mostly Frank, but
with a little Sammy, Dino, Nat "King" Cole & Bobby
Darin tossed in
). The artwork on the album
the instrumentation is almost fetishistic in its
faithfulness to the source materials. But, to his
credit, as a singer Williams doesnt attempt to
imitate the Chairman, he does allow his own singing
voice and personality to shine through.
without saying that most of these songs are
thats the whole point of the album, I
suppose. So the question becomes, is there really a
reason they should have been remade?
For the most
part the recordings are very good, though almost
never in the league of their sources. Williams
lassoed in a few of his show-biz friends to sing
along, which unfortunately gives the album a slight
whiff of a novelty.
The duet with actress Nicole
Kidman on Frank and Nancy Sinatras "Somethin
Stupid" is just stunning, proving that Kidmans
singing voice in Moulin Rouge was not a
doctored fluke. (Williams graciously mixed Kidmans
voice higher in the mix than his own
actress/comedian Jane Horrocks does fine on a duet
of Bobby Darins "Things," too.
More problematic is
comedian Jon Lovitz being Bing to Williams Frank on
Cole Porters "Well, Did Ya Evah?" While Lovitzs
voice is perfectly serviceable (if just a little bit
too similar to Williams) and he acquits
himself pretty well, honestly, its just hard to
take an album that would have Jon Lovitz singing too
seriously. Tommy Flanagan sings Cole Porter? Yeah,
yeah, thats the ticket. Maybe he had his wife
sing back up. Yeah, thats it!
Otherwise, Swing When Youre Winning is a
terrific little album. Hopefully it will get a new
generation to seek out the original songs, which are
even better. (3/02)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright © 2002
PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted March 28, 2002.