Swings Both Ways by Robbie Williams

Swings Both Ways by Robbie Williams

 

Robbie is a natural stage performer, the sort of guy with that inherent sense of classy showmanship that made Frank Sinatra so popular. 2001’s Swing When You’re Winning was a quickly recorded cover album, almost as a self-indulgent reward for winning it all. Robbie’s always taking up new projects or getting back at old ones, and seeing how much he enjoyed himself on Winning, it came as no surprise that he would follow it up with another swing collection. Swings Both Ways includes a handful of original recordings in addition to covers of good ol’ timeless classics.

 

TRACKLIST:
#1. Shine My Shoes 3:24
#2. Go Gentle 4:31
#3. I Wan’na Be Like You 3:31
#4. Swing Supreme 3:17
#5. Swings Both Ways 3:59
#6. Dream A Little Dream 3:34
#7. Soda Pop 3:19
#8. Snowblind 3:19
#9. Puttin’ On The Ritz 2:32
#10. Little Green Apples 3:17
#11. Minnie The Moocher 3:42
#12. If I Only Had A Brain 3:53
#13. No One Likes A Fat Pop Star 2:52
Deluxe Edition:
#14. Where There’s Muck 4:10
#15. 16 Tons 2:37
#16. Wedding Bells 4:37

 

PERSONNEL:
Robert Peter “Robbie” Williams: Vocals, Instrumentation

 

PRODUCER:
Guy Chambers

 

DATE OF RELEASE:
18th November, 2013

 

SINGLES:
Go Gentle
Dream A Little Dream

 

Robbie has never been the one to dither between albums. While other acts are under the constant pressure of catering to expectations and postpone releases so they have the freedom to explore other genres, Williams just runs with whatever he’s into at the moment. He’s got this natural aura that helps him pull off the big band charm almost effortlessly. That’s pretty much why he’s part of an increasingly rare breed of the confident and old-school male singer, as opposed to the introspective (Chris Martin) or damaged (Trent Reznor) personas of most rock vocalists today.

 

That said, the covers are quite ordinary and the original material just a little bit better than pedestrian. Despite a strong supporting cast – all of whom are talented performers with guile – very few tracks manage to stick in your head after you’ve given the record a spin. Olly Murs has the requisite confidence and happy-go-lucky attitude on I Wan’na Be Like You, but not much in the way of affability or down-to-earthyness of the original. And while Lily Allen does a fine job on the homely Dream A Little Dream, Kelly Clarkson displays little chemistry or emotion on Little Green Apples, leaving Williams to carry the tune mostly by himself.

 

Few and far between they may be, but the highlights are something to behold. The easygoing brass section of Go Gentle is an apt sidekick for the sincerest father-daughter appraisal you’re likely to hear these days. With old-fashioned lyrics like “Don’t go out with the idiots who think that they’re heroes / They will betray you / Stick with us weirdos”, fathers across the globe will easily relate to its somewhat overprotective sentiments regarding daughters. Snowblind is an affectionate ode to universal love that resonates despite Williams’ delicate struggle to prevent his naturally strong voice from becoming too saccharine.

 

Ten solo studio records (not counting his work with Take That) over a career that is not even two decades young is nothing to be sneered at. Of course, the flip side is that the top quality material ends up being spread over several releases instead of one record. That is mainly why Robbie’s strongest efforts have been the ones he’s devoted some extra time to (Intensive Care, Take The Crown). So even for a largely retrospective album, Swings Both Ways is too derivative and formulaic to draw notice from anyone except the casual Williams fan. It feels, and plays like just another boring Christmas record.

 

 

 

 

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