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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 13 November 2001
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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VINE VOICEon 13 November 2001
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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on 29 November 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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on 20 December 2001
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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on 12 November 2001
Robbie Williams offers a wonderful compilation of sounds from the past that bring a warmth to the soul. He has truly accomplished a great deal with this new CD - SWING WHILE YOU'RE WINNING. His versions of "Somewhere Beyond The Sea" and "Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me" will thrill and delight those who still thirst for Big Band and the old sounds of Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, etc. He pays tribute to Frank and Nancy in his duet "Something Stupid" with Nicole Kidman which will mystify its listener.
One extraordinary addition to this CD is the song "I Will Talk And Hollywood Will Listen". It reveals Robbie's magnificent range which truly compliments his and Guy Chambers writing skills.
Although this CD is a far stretch from LIFE THRU A LENS, I'VE BEEN EXPECTING YOU, THE EGO HAS LANDED & SING WHILE YOU'RE WINNING, it's still Robbie (still a winner). Each song on SWING WHILE YOU'RE WINNING contains that unique "Robbie flair" which ensures that Williams' fans will not be disappointed.
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on 20 November 2001
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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What can i say, I bought this album the day it came out and it hasn't been out of my CD player since.
As a 'music' fan it is a pleasure to see an artist perform a cover version of a track in the manner it was designed to be sung and do it so well, with a perfect rendition of 'Mac the Knife' a tear jerking account of 'Mr Bojangles' and the powerful interpretation of 'Miss Jones' this coupled with a superb performance of Robbie and Guy Chamber's written 'I will talk and Hollywood will listen' makes this album the perfect combination for anyone.
Robbie says "to sing these songs in a place like this has always been a dream for me. Thank you for making my dream come true" Quite frankly this is a dream to listen to, we should all thank Rob for his guts determination and ability not just to sing but to stick two fingers up to the cynics and do what he does best... Entertain
My advise - Buy the CD listen and love it, then buy the DVD 'Live at the Albert Hall' watch it and live it, one thing is guaranteed you will enjoy it and you too can be the youngest swinger in town.
Enjoy - The Kidster.
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on 29 November 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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on 6 December 2001
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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I am not particularly a ‘Robbie’ fan, now being one of the ‘crusty’ brigade!
However, I do like and appreciate the jazz and big band eras, and so felt ‘RW ‘ would do a pretty good at it, as I felt his voice was well suited to it.
It’s almost impossible to match the originals by say Sinatra or the like, but I have to say that he does a very reasonable job. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the song list and never switched off mentally once. Yes, there are songs I wished he’d included from that period, but hey, I realize that’s an impossible task! Perhaps he'll do a mark 2?
One thing is for sure, the accompaniment ( orchestration) is just superb and of the highest order, even if Robbie’s versions are good rather than great.
The album went to number one, and the live DVD of the song list was one of the all-time bestselling DVD’s of that ilk.
Yes, good rather than great, but very professionally done and very easy to appreciate and to listen to. Well done Robbie – just one small request, would you kindly stop nodding all the time when you’re on stage, it's most disconcerting as one feels like nodding back!
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