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4.4 out of 5 stars43
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 19 November 2002
Having now got Holland's entire back catalogue, you can imagine my anticpation waiting for the brown cardboard box from Amazon waiting to drop through my letterbox. No disappointment whatsoever.
This CD is certainly better than Small World Big Band 1 and is more upbeat, containing tracks such as Tuxedo Junction from the Bells Whisky advert, to Huey from the Fun Lovin' Criminals covering Fly Me To The Moon. The fact that Revolution (with Stereophonics, who again feature excellently on this CD) on Small World Big Band 1 has been voted in some circles says it all.
For a guy that grew up in the 90s, I would also say there are more contemporaries and well-knowns than on the last CD: Huey, Tom Jones, Bono, Bryan Ferry, Stereophonics to name but a few. This also leads me to think that Tom Jones could do a full album with Jools.
The music is also more appealing to the 'mainstream' compared with other CDs such as Sunset Over London and A-Z of Piano where you really have to like instrumentals and R&B style tunes.
Hope there is a volume 3. Many thanks Jools, can't wait 'til your concert in December...
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on 22 November 2002
I'm a bit of a Jools virgin - my first album was Small World, Big Band, vol 1 closely followed by Greatest Hits. They've never been out the CD player in the car over the last year. It was with trepidation (and excitement) that I ordered "More Friends" -after all - could it be as addictive?
There's the good old Jools blues piano in Tuxedo Junction and Anglegrinder Blues, but there are also some surprises, especially Bono and his Velvet Dress.I've not had the album long, but everytime I listen to it, you come across more gems such as Snowflake Boogie and Your's truly Confused N10. There's a real blend of artistes and - well it works for me!
The Orchestra "and Friends" ensemble is fantastic but Jools has to be careful that he doesn't place overreliance on them and overdo the formula - after all he is a supreme musician and entertainer in his own right and he mustn't lose his own identity. There are one or two tracks where you forget momentarily that you are listening to a Jools album, but in the next moment he's right back there giving it his all!!
It is a testament to Jools reputation in the music world that so many artistes want to work with him and you get the feeling that everyone is enjoying the ultimate jam session.
I think it'll spend the next year in the car.....!!
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VINE VOICEon 24 November 2002
Jools Holland must have one of the most enviable 'phone books in the music business. Having mingled with the great and the good of pop music (in the broadest sense of the term) on "Later" for many years, this album was bound to be an eclectic affair and carries on where "Small World, Big Band" Volume 1 left off. One might harbour suspicions that this is a mutual congratulation society for musos, but relax, the mood is one of mutual support, not congratulation. Jools' own big band/rhythm and blues leanings anchor the sound and give the album coherence. This is complemented by the diversity of the guest artists on each track, who give of themselves willingly to lend the whole affair an uplifting, party atmosphere.
Inevitably there are some weak spots. I may be one of the few people to find Kelly Jones' strangled cat vocals as enjoyable as listening to someone scraping their fingernails down a blackboard, but there are plenty of high points, for example Ray Davies (who was criminally omitted from the "Party at the Palace" CD) delivering a finely balanced performance combining the poignancy and quizzical humour that made The Kinks so special. Norah Jones, a rising jazz star,is poised and soulful whilst Guy Barker, a leading jazz trumpeter, demonstrates his remarkable dexterity on that expressive instrument. Damon Gough's (aka Badly Drawn Boy) contribution is pleasingly quirky and Robert Plant lets it all hang out as only he can. This album may not break any new ground musically but it may well bring a smile to your face with its sense of camaraderie and the sheer enjoyment of making music. I do have some bad news, however: the car on the cover (a beautiful old Humber Hawk if I'm not mistaken) is not included as a free gift with the CD.
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on 7 January 2004
A truely superb listen, that gets better every time I hear it. With Jools' wonderful band backing this top notch line-up, I can't possibly see how this could be bettered. Edwin Star grooves magically, Bryan Ferry smooches, The Blind Boys Of Alabama simply have fun. There's too many great moments to mention in one review, Badly Drawn Boy's 'The Can Is Open' finds the Manc-hero in cracking form, while Jools and band's own version of the classic 'Tuxedo Junction' finally brings to CD the buzz of their live performances. 'Yours sincerely, confused N10' written by and starring Ray Davies is truely superb; true, his voice doesn't hit the mark sometimes, but we don't expect him to, thats not what he does - he's not a singer, he's a social commentator, and more to the point - he's the best social commentator we have as well, and its a joy to have him back! Ending with the highly dramatic, seedy, emotionally charged but brilliant 'Velvet Dress' courtesy of U2's Bono, this album is one of the most enjoyable pieces of music currently available. Of the three 'Small World Big Band' albums this is by far the strongest; whilst the first CD very much feels like a series of collaborations, and the more recent third album is oddly lacking in guests, this one really hits the mark. Superb!
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VINE VOICEon 2 December 2002
Following on from the success of the first volume, this is even better. Jools has collected together another selection of "Friends" and backed them with his superb Orchestra. This time out he is joined by Tom Jones, Ray Davies, Robert Plant, Jeff Beck and Bono, to name but a few.
Robert Plant returns to his Honeydrippers persona with 'Let the Boogie Woogie Roll' true 50's rock'n'roll sound. Jools and his orchestra include their own version of 'Tuxedo Junction' a new take on this Big Band standard instrumental. Jeff Beck's track is also an instrumental showing again what a great guitarist he is.
If you like good music, played well; then this is for you.
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on 19 January 2008
I was really looking forward to this CD as Jools is capable of some amazing performances and the tracks here are all winners. Unfortunately, I have to agree with another reviewer here - the sound quality is very poor to the point of being almost unlistenable on a decent system. The music is very compressed and as such it's just a bland wall of sound; all the emotion that was put into the live performances has been lost. This disc is another unfortunate casualty of the loudness war.
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on 20 November 2002
The good thing about Jools and his band is you don't really have to be a fan to be mesmerised. Having enjoyed the live shows for the last five years, I finally gave in last year and bought Small World Big Band and enjoyed it hugely.
Volume 2 continues the successful formula, of combining a great band with great singers and musicians.
With great vocal contributions from Norah Jones, Chrissie Hynde, Ruby Turner, and Beverly Knight. The RBO blows really hot especially on Together We Are Strong a great duet between Sam Moore and Sam Brown, and the blistering instrumentals Tuxedo Junction and Drown in my Own Tears with the great Jeff Beck.
Not forgetting contributions from the guys Brian Ferry on The Only Face, Tom Jones, Ray Davies Yours Truly Confused N10 is brilliant, George Benson, and Robert Plant on the superb Let the Boogie Woogie Roll.
The highlight is the finale, Jools big band version of If You Wear That Velvet Dress, featuring a stunning vocal performance by Bono.
What a way to end another great album.
Well done Jools and Co.
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on 24 November 2002
Another cornucopia of delights from Jools' mighty mountain of sound. To be honest I was beginning to wonder if the roll-call of celebrity guest vocalists plus 65 assorted musicians (all great) might just be a wee bit over the top, but as Blake would have it "Enough! or Too Much" - and this is definitely Too Much.
On a couple of days listening I think this could be superior to Volume One. Overall the feeling is more reflective, deeper, with a broader range of moods, though there's plenty to boogie to alongside. Highlights for me include Chrissie Hynde's gorgeous 'Out of this World' and idiosyncratic originals from Badly Drawn Boy and Ray Davies. I won't be listening to anything else for a while. Every home should have one and no doubt millions will.
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on 23 November 2002
This is another brilliant collection of songs, and I think its slightly better than Small World Big Band. Each song gets the Big Band treatment, and the arrangements of the songs, mostly by saxophonist Phil Veacock, are all excellent. I don't think there's a bad track, my particular favourites being Snowflake Boogie with Edwyn Starr and Don't You Kiss My Cheek with Tom Jones, both of which spontaneously get your feet tapping! In addition to the guests, the Rhythm and Blues Orchestra are all fantastic musicians, highlighted in numerous solos throughout. However much I like this album though, I would still have prefered an album in the same vein as Sunset over London or - the best in my opinion - Hop the Wag.
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on 5 November 2010
Absolutely one of my favourite CDs. There are so many great songs and performances. The opener "together we are strong" is a soulful duet, followed by strong tracks featuring Norah Jones, Edwin Starr, Dionne Warwick.

"Don't you kiss my cheek" features masterfully arrogant vocals from Tom Jones with brilliant guitar work from Mark Flanagan, coupled with a stunning instrumental break from the brass section.

My favourite track features the Blind Boys of Alabama romping through an old style gospel song, with Jools hammering the piano like a demon. I fondly imagine that they had had a few jars down the pub before making the recording of this trak....

Huey of Fine YOung Cannibals does a masterful tongue in cheek swing version of "Fly me to the Moon", a wry Ray Davies song about the state of the UK is coupled with a blistering salsa style arrangement in "Yours truly confused N10". Great tracks with Robert Plant, Jeff Beck, a wonderfully laid back jazz feel collaboration with George Benson, and a romping ska number with Jimmy Cliff.

Twenty three tracks and not a single dud, with a stupendous mix of styles and arrangemnts. This one has it all.
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