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88 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robbie fans in for a culture shock with this album
Released here in New Zealand to coincide with Robbie's tour which opens in my home city of Christchurch tonight 13th November, "Swing When You're Winning" is a collection of tracks that take you back to an era of the Big Bands, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington and the like. Described as a tribute to Frank, Dean and Sammy, Williams is in his element here. For...
Published on 13 Nov 2001

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59 of 64 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious, but ultimately successful tribute album
No-one will ever call Robbie Williams a coward. With no 1 singles rolling off the Williams / Chambers production line at will, he could have been forgiven for staying in his success zone.
This hugely ambitious tribute album features some of the greatest foot tapping standards from the gretaest crooners of the last century. Whilst it true to say that Robbie hasn't...
Published on 29 Nov 2001 by pwhent@yahoo.co.uk


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88 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robbie fans in for a culture shock with this album, 13 Nov 2001
By A Customer
Released here in New Zealand to coincide with Robbie's tour which opens in my home city of Christchurch tonight 13th November, "Swing When You're Winning" is a collection of tracks that take you back to an era of the Big Bands, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington and the like. Described as a tribute to Frank, Dean and Sammy, Williams is in his element here. For anyone who might think of him as a teen pop idol, take a listen to this album and marvel at the quality of the vocals. Williams has a superb voice which is captured to great effect by a high quality recording. Ably supported by the likes of Nicole Kidman and the London Session orchestra, this album oozes class.
I think the most intriguing aspect to this CD release is to consider who Williams is targetting this album towards. A poll of my family suggests that it may leave his younger audience cold. However, the more mature members of Robbie's fan club (dare I put an age on this - say those the wrong side of 30) - thank Williams for producing something quite above the ordinary hum-drum fodder that comprises about 95% of the music industry today. Go buy this album!
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71 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Vintage Performance!!, 13 Nov 2001
By 
A. Watson (Christchurch, NZ) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This is fantastic!
I am not a huge Robbie fan but liked his version of 'Have You Met Miss Jones?' on the Bridget Jones Soundtrack, and brought this album on the strength of it. If you liked that you will love this.
All but the opening track are Standards from the 50's and 60's, and each is both faithful to the original and at the same time unmistakably Robbie Williams.
He may not have the world's greatest voice, as is made plain when he 'duets' with Sinatra himself on 'It was a Very Good Year', but what he lacks in range he more than makes up for in delivery.
Many of the tracks are duets, and it on these particularly that you get the sense that this was great fun to make, and that he is not taking himself too seriously. Highlights are the comical version of 'Things' with Jane Horricks and the playful 'Something Stupid' with Nicole Kidman.
Added to all of this, the orchestral arrangement on every track is to die for. Whether a Robbie Williams fan or not this ought to be part of your record collection. It's guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face and a swing in your step.
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59 of 64 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious, but ultimately successful tribute album, 29 Nov 2001
No-one will ever call Robbie Williams a coward. With no 1 singles rolling off the Williams / Chambers production line at will, he could have been forgiven for staying in his success zone.
This hugely ambitious tribute album features some of the greatest foot tapping standards from the gretaest crooners of the last century. Whilst it true to say that Robbie hasn't outfranked Frank, he has brought these classics to a new generation of listeners and for that he should be commended. Ironically, the track that has me coming back for more is "I will talk and Hollywood will listen" the only Williams/Chambers compilation on the album. It is pure Robbie Williams and almost stole the show when he performed the album live at the Albert Hall. That accolade is reserved for the tragic "Mr Bojangles", the desperate story of the great Bill Robinson which Williams delivers with pathos and power. The much hyped duet with Niocle Kidman of "Something Stupid" is perhaps the most disappointing cover, lacking the charisma and depth of the Frank and Nancy Sinatra original.
Swing when your winning is a very good listen. But inevtiably when great songs sung by great singers are reproduced they will all be compared with the originals. Robbie Williams is no Nat King Cole, but he is an entertainer in the Freddie Mercury mold.
Although this is a review of the album, it cannot be divorced from its live rendition at the Albert Hall, which was truly magnificent. This was an integral part of Williams' Swing project and it allowed him to show that whilst he hasn't got Frank's voice, he has star written all over him. If you've seen the show you won't be able to stop listening to the album. If you haven't, you may conclude that Robbie has almost bitten off more than he could chew and just about carried it off.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Listen to The Cynics!, 20 Dec 2001
By A Customer
Being a huge Sinatra & Rat Pack fan I have to admit when I first found out about this ambitious project I was cynical. Had Robbie (& his ego, which to be fair is backed up with a lot of natural talent) gone too far this time?
Well the answer is a clear NO! Having been blown away by the Live Show the album was a must.
Let's get a few things straight to start with. Williams does not think he's Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin or Sammy Davis Jnr and he doesn't sound like them either. There is no one on the planet who could fill the loss of the greatest singer of the 20th Century, Sinatra or hope to replace the talent of the late great Sammy Davis Jnr. He is just singing great songs he loves from the heart and he sings them with integrity and respect for the artists who sang them. He does a great job as well! If this means a whole new generation will be switched on to Sinatra & Swing .. then we can only thank the man & his talent for this great album.
My personal highlights are 'Mr Bojangles', which Robbie almost claims as his own with a stunning performance of power & emotional depth. The music from a first class Orchestra is hauntingly tragic. 'It was A Good Year' the duet with Sinatra is also very tastefully done (half of the song each) and Robbie does not disgrace himself even in the presence of the great man himself! 'One For My baby' (a personal Sinatra favourite of mine) is given justice with Mr Williams getting the mood & feel of the piece spot on.
Make no mistake Robbie Williams is a massive talent that this country should be proud of. He has more in common with those late great Rat Pack entertainers than most people give him credit for. Yes he's been described as an entertainer, a song & dance man .... but hey ... so were Frank, Sammy & Dean! Long live the spirit of the Rat Pack & It's new leader Mr Williams!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can he do no wrong, 8 Dec 2001
By A Customer
Robbie Williams throughout his career has had a midas touch afeter escaping from the ill fated Take That and their failed "stars" right through his previous three albums. This however is a complete change in direction for the Mr Williams who for years has been content to churn out happy pop songs and the odd ballad (exactly what the public at large want, he took a risk to make this album and it works. while the most of the album is cover versions from the rat pack era the first song I will talk and Hollywood will listen, is all his and Guy Chambers(his co-writers) own work and it is brilliant showcasing perfectly the amount of talent this guy has. Which is also my only criticism of this album although he sings beautifully they are mostly cover versions admittedly good ones, it may have suited his purpose better if he had made an album of his own work the quality of the opener (I will talk). Even still i recommend this album whole heartedly go buy it by the way Robbie I love your duet with the deceased Frank Sinatra awesome
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great piece of work, 20 Nov 2001
By 
BROWN (Norwich, Norfolk United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Well, five years ago would we have thought that Robbie Williams would be one of the most successful pop artists that the UK has ever produced? Probably not. And if somebody had said he would make a successful big band album we would have laughed at them. And yet here we are - and here he is!
The critics have mercilessly panned this latest Robbie effort - but is it that bad? No, it's not is the straight-forward answer. In fact, it is quite good! Sadly the critics have been nice to Robbie for too long and have taken this move in a different direction as a good reason to do some Robbie-bashing! Ok, so it's not a masterpiece (although the live version soon to be released on DVD is close to magnificent) but we must remember that Williams is only 27 and Sinatra was 40 and over when recording these songs originally!
Now, we need to get something said once and for all. Mr Williams is NOT trying to be Sinatra here. He is simply having a good time recording some good songs that he loves and paying tribute the original artists. Nothing wrong with that. Williams' self-depracating (sp?) humour is liberally sprinkled throughout the album.
The opening number is probably the most unusual performance. It is a new song by Williams and Chambers, but sounds more like a Pastiche of the overblown songs from "Sunset Boulevard." It works perfectly and it is obvious from the opening of the album that Robbie's voice is getting stronger with each album.
"Mack The Knife" is next and is probably the weakest track on the album. Trying to pinpoint why is quite difficult. Nothing is vastly different from all the other performances on the CD - but something seems forced and unnatural here. I can't say anything more than that.
Next up is the "Something Stupid" duet with Nicole Kidman. The song is crap and always has been but the version here is professionally performed and the two voices blend perfectly.
"Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me" is an Ellington classic and given a groovy new arrangement here. This is one of the most successful tracks. Robbie is in good voice, swinging well and having a wail of a time.
"It Was A Very Good Year" is a duet with Sinatra. The idea is not one of the best, but both parties sing their parts well - and, what's more, it is far better done than most of the tracks on Sinatra's duets albums on 1990s.
"Straighten Up And Fly Right" is another great performance of a straight swing number.
"Well Did You Evah?" is a weird addition to the album. Being a "showtune" rather than a swing number, it sounds like an interloper - more so than Robbie's own composition at the start of the album. And yet this shows off yet another facet of Williams' talents as his pure showmanship is at the fore here as he duets with Jon Lovitz.
And now the masterpiece. "Mr Bojangles" is simply superb. Robbie Williams here puts in a performance betraying his young age. Something to be very proud of.
"One For My Baby" on the other hand is Ok, but lacks depth. But give the singer another ten years and get him to record it again and it will be brilliant!
"Things" is a duet with Jane Horrocks. A nice cool big band arrangement of the Bobby Darin number that could even be as good as the original.
"Ain't That A Kick In The Head" and "Have You Met Miss Jones" are more of the same. Great songs, well sung. "They Can't Take That Away From Me" features the vocal talents of Rupert Everett - and I'd like to say that Mr Everett doesn't utter one foul word in three minutes - now there's an achievement!
"Me And My Shadow" with Jonathan Wilkes shows great charisma between the two singers and they work brilliantly togeter. The album is concluded by a cover of the Bobby Darin classic "Beyond The Sea."
So, to sum up. It's not a masterpiece - but it is a very good attempt at an old-fashioned swing album and full marks to Robbie Williams for putting himself on the line and recording it. I can only hope that he doesn't take the critics to heart and he continues to spread his artistic wings. One final note - believe it or not, on most of the duets both singers were in the same studio at the same time!!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go on....you know you want to, 10 Dec 2001
Hmmmm....now, being a confirmed Sinatra fan, I'm happy that the medium of standard (verse and chorus)song has been hauled back into the arena. The songs featured on this album are the pick of a very heady crop.
A few stick out...
Williams and Lovitz rendition of the Crosby/ Sinatra 'Well, did you evah?' is as bitchy and camp as the original. It's a difficult song to keep that balance...this one is a hit among many misses.
When I was a kid (I'm only 37 now, for those with an inquisitive mind) Sinatra singing 'It was a very good year' had me melting on Benny Greens' Radio 2 show, on Sunday afternoons. The handover (using the original arrangement) to Sinatra, was a pleasant surprize on the first listening, and a welcome return on the second.
I disagree with others who have complained of this selection being 'painful'...if they want to hear painful try 'hardcore industrial techno'-minus anaesthetic!
Those that have critisized cruelly,have failed to miss the point of the exercise...and those that have made unkind critique of Ms Kidmans voice in 'Somethin' Stupid', should remember that Nancy Sinatra was a perfect example of the belief that from great singers an occasional decent grocer will be produced. At least Ms Kidman can sing...and will have a career beyond a few warbled ditties with parents.
On the whole, this music is incredibly timeless. Anyone questioning this should buy a Sammy Cahn/ Sinatra album, and note that the album tracks Robbie has included are among, but not the most, famed that Sinatra recorded, yet they are easy on the ear and with lyrics that still tug at the odd heart string.
Anyone with a love, or even a curiousity of beauty of lyrics will be heartened by the thought that such sentiment can triumph over time.
Check it out.
One last thing...Robbie Williams' own contribution to this album, ' I will talk, and Hollywood will listen' is reminisent of the introduction that Barry Manilow gave to his tribute album to 1978 a few years ago. Both honour the time without being too sickly-sweet about it.
Well done Robbie!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An ambitious but ultimately successful tribute album, 29 Nov 2001
No-one will ever call Robbie Williams a coward. With no 1 singles rolling off the Williams / Chambers production line at will, he could have been forgiven for staying in his success zone.
This hugely ambitious tribute album features some of the greatest foot tapping standards from the gretaest crooners of the last century. Whilst it true to say that Robbie hasn't outfranked Frank, he has brought these classics to a new generation of listeners and for that he should be commended. Ironically, the track that has me coming back for more is "I will talk and Hollywood will listen" the only Williams/Chambers compilation on the album. It is pure Robbie Williams and almost stole the show when he performed the album live at the Albert Hall. That accolade is reserved for the tragic "Mr Bojangles", the desperate story of the great Bill Robinson which Williams delivers with pathos and power. The much hyped duet with Niocle Kidman of "Something Stupid" is perhaps the most disappointing cover, lacking the charisma and depth of the Frank and Nancy Sinatra original.
Swing when your winning is a very good listen. But inevtiably when great songs sung by great singers are reproduced they will all be compared with the originals. Robbie Williams is no Nat King Cole, but he is an entertainer in the Freddie Mercury mold.
Although this is a review of the album, it cannot be divorced from its live rendition at the Albert Hall, which was truly magnificent. This was an integral part of Williams' Swing project and it allowed him to show that whilst he hasn't got Frank's voice, he has star written all over him. If you've seen the show you won't be able to stop listening to the album. If you haven't, you may conclude that Robbie has almost bitten off more than he could chew and just about carried it off.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Turn this one up!, 14 Oct 2003
By A Customer
I really enjoyed the BBC screening of the Albert Hall performance but only recently got round to buying this when I heard my neighbour playing it loud over the summer - it sounded fantastic! I know lots of people moan about Robbie not matching up to Sinatra and I never expected them to sound the same but if I want to hear Sinatra then I'll play my Sinatra CDs! But it sounds like Robbie had a good time doing this album and I think it really comes across: it's a lot of fun, a nice collection of tracks (classics and new) and sounds great.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Robbie conveys his affection for a bygone era, 6 Dec 2001
By A Customer
Being a committed Robbie fan and owner of all of his previous work, but not yet feeling old enough to be a Radio 2 listener, I approached this CD with some trepidation. The sheer joy that Robbie had projected when performing Have You Met Miss Jones? on Parkinson and the inclusion of My Way as an encore on his last two tours indicated that he felt comfortable with these songs, but would I feel the same way?
Happily for me, for the most part, Robbie manages to turn his affection for these songs into an absorbing experience. Sharp, bright orchestration drives tracks like Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me, Ain't That A Kick In The Head (which creates one of those niggling, can't get it out of your head hooks) and Mack The Knife and Robbie's voice rises to the challenge. The duets - Me And My Shadow with Jonathan Wilkes (which conveys genuine friendship between the two participants), They Can't Take That Away From Me with Rupert Everett, Things with Jane Horrocks and Somethin' Stupid with Nicole Kidman - add variety and range. The low spots for me come in the middle of the running order with Mr Bojangles, where Robbie's interpretation comes across as too mannered and affected, and the Well, Did You Evah duet with Jon Lovitz, which is too much like a slice of a soundtrack to gel with the rest of the content of the CD.
So, all in all, Radio 2 may not be such a bad option after all! However, I have to confess that my highlight of Swing When You're Winning is I Will Talk And Hollywood Will Listen, the only original song in the collection and another step up in the quality of the Williams / Chambers repertoire. I'll just have to hope that Hollywood doesn't start listening before Robbie delivers another album of his own songs. In the meantime, this is packed full of good tunes and a very enjoyable way of filling the gap.
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Swing When You're Winning [VINYL]
Swing When You're Winning [VINYL] by Robbie Williams (Vinyl - 2001)
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