|1. Mr. Robert's Roost|
|2. Juice Head Blues|
|3. Feeling Fine|
|4. You Don't Love Me|
|5. Seven Acts Of Mercy|
|6. Roll This Soul Tonight|
|7. Dancing Mood|
|8. Casbah Blues (Instrumental)|
|9. Double O Boogie (instrumental)|
|10. Just One More Time|
|11. My Country Man|
|12. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love|
|13. Riffin' With The Griffin (Instrumental)|
|14. After Hours (Instrumental)|
|15. Sent For You Yesterday|
|16. Blowin' In The Wind|
|17. Be My Guest|
|18. Where In The Workd|
|19. Sixth Avenue Express (Instrumental)|
|20. Something's Going On|
See all 21 tracks on this disc
I suspect the reason for this is that, like those legendary bands, this one has been recorded as live - Jools tells us that usually the first or third take was used - and it has been done onto tape initially. Despite the subsequent use of Protools and the necessary digital processing for CD, that "old fashioned" power and dynamism of a great big band has been captured successfully. As Jools also says in his notes, the fact that more or less the same lineup have been playing with him live and on record now for seven years helped enormously.
On to the music itself, which is a mixture of big band blues, jazz, boogie woogie, pop and ska. As I have intimated, it's loud, and nearly all very uptempo - there's scarcely a mid-paced number, let alone a slow ballad. Some are Holland originals, some are very well known, like the excursion into Bob Dylan territory and Solomon Burke's Blues Brothers favourite, and some are less familiar numbers from the likes of Woody Herman, Count Basie and bluesman T-Bone Walker. Scattered throughout are the ska-flavoured tracks which trombonist Rico Rodriguez and saxophonist Michael Rose have come across in their native Jamaica and arranged for the big orchestra. It's impossible to pick out favourites as, despite the fairly relentless pace of things, every track is different and has its own attractions, and Holland's knack of being able to write so well "in the style of..." means that even the originals are not inferior.
Vocals, where applicable, are handled by what are now his "regulars" - Sam Brown, Ruby Turner and Solomon Burke, with one guest appearance by Beverley Knight, who can certainly belt it out with the best of them. Perhaps the only weakness is when Jools himself takes the mike - he's no Difford or Tilbrook, and he sounds as if he's singing in the closet the orchestra have escaped from.
This is a great big band album, one for turning up the volume, giving the hifi a workout, and blowing away the cobwebs.
Every year, regular as clockwork, Jools Holland releases a new album of music to coincide with his autumn/winter tours. It sounds a bit of a grind for most musicians but for Holland's fans it is a date in the diary to look forward to. Last year we had the superlative collaborative album with a rejuvinated Tom Jones - this year Jools Holland has regrouped with his big band and regular singers Sam Brown, Ruby Turner and guest performers Beverly Knight and the legendary Solomon Burke. As the album title describes the mix of blues and big band tunes and a dash of reggae/ska rhythms is a joyous blending of old classic tunes and new songs. For those who see Jools' gig every year there are also a few concert faves such as Double O Boogie, Dancing Mood and Blowin' in the Wind. Solomon Burke provides a roaring version of his Everybody Needs Somebody To Love [best known from the Blues Brother movie], and Sam Brown belts out Juice Head Blues like a good 'un. The bedrock of the album, of course, is the Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, surely every bit as good as any band Count Basy or Lionel Hampton ever had, capable of intimate blues one moment and a rip-roaring blast of of r&b the next. Swinging The Blues Dancing The Ska is damn fine album, equally good for parties or simply lifting the spirits after the christmas shopping. Buy it and dive in!
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