Swing When You're Winning

Swing When You're Winning

by Robbie WilliamsRobbie Williams


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Anybody who witnessed Robbie Williams's booty-shakin' Net Aid performance knows that this British pop star (and former teen star) has buckets of charisma. However, his charm has not traveled well across the pond, as he is still a virtual unknown in the U.S. Sing When You're Winning is Williams's latest attempt at victory abroad, and, as evidenced by the artwork (photos of soccer players, referees, and fans/hooligans -- all of whom are Robbie), he is going all out. And the music backs up the handsome face(s). Smarter, edgier, and more stylish than tracks from American boy bands, Sing mixes electronic beats and heavy electric guitars and charges them up with an '80s British pop sensibility. The infectious dance-floor gem "Rock DJ" blends the beat of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax" with the vocal styling of the Pet Shop Boys' "West End Girls." "Better Man" and "If It's Hurting You" are custard-smooth, achy ballads sure to make the birds (as he calls them) weepy. But the real highlight is "Kids," Williams's alternately bubbly and pounding duet with Australia's princess of '80s pop, Kylie "Locomotion" Minogue. The two reveal their record-business scars and find dignity in their pursuits ("We'll paint by numbers/'Til something sticks/Don't mind doing it for the kids"). Minogue even gets off the line, "I've been dropping beats since Back in Black" -- yes! Like the rest of Sing, it's a winner.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - John Bush

Performance dynamo and chameleonic entertainment personality Robbie Williams made a rapid transformation -- from English football hooligan to dapper saloon singer -- for his fourth LP, Swing When You're Winning. Still, Williams' tribute to the great American songbook is a surprisingly natural fit with its intended target: '50s trad-pop patriarchs like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. And just like those two loveable rogues, Williams has brawled and boozed in the past, but isn't afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve; in fact, he's one of the few modern pop stars to fully embrace affecting balladry and nuanced singing. Williams and longtime producer Guy Chambers are also extremely careful with their product, so it shouldn't be surprising that Swing When You're Winning has innumerable extra-musical touches to carry it over: the cover features Williams relaxing in the studio in a period suit; his contract with EMI enabled the addition of the treasured Capitol logo at the top of the sleeve, and several tracks were even recorded at the famed Capitol tower in Hollywood. Fortunately, Williams is no less careful with his performances. Since he lacks the authoritative air of master crooners like Sinatra and Bing Crosby (along with the rest of humanity), he instead plays up his closer connections to the world of Broadway. His readings are dynamic and emotional -- sometimes a consequence of trying to put a new spin on these classics (six of the covers are Sinatra standards, three are Bobby Darin's). He also invited, with nearly universal success, a series of duet partners: Nicole Kidman for the sublime "Somethin' Stupid," Jon Lovitz for the irresistibly catty "Well, Did You Evah," Rupert Everett for "They Can't Take That Away From Me," longtime Sinatra accompanist Bill Miller on "One for My Baby," even Sinatra himself for a version of "It Was a Very Good Year" on which Williams takes the first two verses (over the 1965 arrangement), then bows out as Sinatra's original counsels him concerning the later stages of life. Though it may be an overly close tribute to a familiar original (like many of the songs here), Williams' considerable skills with expression and interpretation largely overwhelm any close criticism. He's definitely much better on the comedy songs, especially the hilarious "Well, Did You Evah" (originally a duet for Crosby and Sinatra in the 1956 film High Society). Lovitz's rounded tones and faux-affected airs are a spot-on interpretation of Brother Cros, while Williams' emulation of a boorish lug ("That's a nice dress -- think I could talk her out of it?") is nearly perfect as well. Though arranger Steve Sidwell hasn't done many charts (and those for the movies Moulin Rouge, Bridget Jones' Diary, and Romeo + Juliet), he also acquits himself nicely aping classic scores for "One for My Baby" and "Beyond the Sea." The lone Robbie Williams original is "I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen," a sweeping pipe-dream fantasy of true American superstardom for Britain's biggest pop star. It could happen, too; Pierce Brosnan surely isn't growing any younger.

Entertainment Weekly - Tom Sinclair

...Winning is a winner, offering ample reason for connoisseurs of great pop to rejoice, whatever their age.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/14/2002
Label: Emi Europe Generic
UPC: 0724353682620
catalogNumber: 536826

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