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Rod Stewart and Jools Holland’s Swing Fever

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    Posted: 23 Feb 2024 at 4:40am

Rod Stewart and Jools Holland’s Swing Fever is bulldozed by bad boogie-woogie

The raffish rasper tries his best with the jazz classics, but Holland's more-is-more arrangements mean this project never leaves the station 

Rod Stewart and Jools Holland initially bonded over their love of model railways – though they tragically stopped short of turning that shared enthusiasm into a concept album. Their new record, Swing Fever, instead celebrates their other mutual passion: the rambunctious big band standards of the 30s and 40s.

Stewart’s raffish rasp is, of course, one of the most famous and instantly recognisable in rock ’n’ roll. He could sing a takeaway menu and it would sound as if he wanted you to join him for cocktails and maybe a kick around on his private football pitch.

It is true that, at 79, his voice is no longer the force of nature that transformed naff-on-paper tunes such as “Sailing” and “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” into bangers for the ages. Yet there’s still plenty of vim in those vocal cords, and, on his latest collection, he skips effortlessly through time-worn standards such as “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Pennies from Heaven”.

The problem with Swing Fever, though, is his choice of collaborator. Holland is a BBC staple who, with his New Year’s Eve specials, has campaigned tirelessly on behalf of the word “Hootenanny”. However, he has a secondary career as once-and-future king of boogie-woogie piano – and, in that capacity, is a bit of an acquired taste.

To take the attention away from Rod Stewart without once opening your mouth is quite an achievement. That’s what Holland does throughout a vigorous yet subtly deficient

The Rod-father is both playful with and respectful towards the material. Sadly, the same cannot be said of Holland, whose blustering arrangements drive a bulldozer through “Sentimental Journey” and “Lullaby of Broadway” – the latter perhaps best known to modern audiences from Tony Bennett’s 2006 version (performed with the then-Dixie Chicks).

Stewart is an old hand at breathing new life into ancient tunes: he’s had stellar success with several volumes of American songbook covers. Swing Fever is less accomplished, however. With Holland lumping too much coal into the engine, it’s a chugger that prioritises volume over nuance. Stewart does his best, and his voice is frequently a delight – but, waylaid by Holland’s more-is-more arrangements, this project never leaves the station. 

By Ed Power

from https://inews.co.uk

Edited by snobb - 23 Feb 2024 at 4:40am
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