Swing when you're winning (2001) album by Robbie Williams
Robbie Williams' fourth and latest album is Swing when you're winning, a follow-up on Sing when you're winning, but nowhere near it musically. Swing when you're winning is a collection of oldies, and when I say oldies I mean real oldies. The former Take That member tries to shake off his image of teenage star and shallow pop singer with this album of classic songs and some own songs that sound classic:
I said a few months ago that I wanted to go and kill off Robbie for a little bit, and I think I will do that, by doing this. Not exactly how I planned it, because it is still Robbie... but it's different.
Swing when you're winning is a compilation of jazzy, light-hearted songs by popular music's first superstars like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. Recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles and issued on November 19, 2001, the album is a collection of songs made famous in the 1950's and 1960's. Williams performed the same songs for one special night live on stage at the Royal Albert Hall. For the singer, recording the classic songs in the Capitol Studios with the London Session Orchestra was a special occasion:
I've loved this music since I was a kid in Stoke and for me to sing in front of the band that backed Frank Sinatra in the same studio that he used is an absolute honour... I can honestly say that this is the most fun I have ever had recording.
The album contains fifteen songs:
- I will talk and Hollywood will listen was written by Guy Chambers and Williams himself. "We always thought this song was too orchestral and dramatic for a regular Robbie Williams album", Robbie said and included it in this one.
- Mack the Knife is a ballad from The Beggar's Opera by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. It was popularized by Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra.
- Somethin' stupid cost me 500 Dutch guilders (225 euro). After it just got out, I was hugely surprised by the fact that it was Nicole Kidman who did this duet with Robbie Williams. I lost a bet to my girlfriend who said she didn't have a clue who was the female singer, but she guessed it within four attempts. I still think she cheated. The duet was originally recorded by Frank and Nancy Sinatra in 1967. It's a delightful song and Kidman can really sing.
- Do nothin' till you hear from me is a brass song by Duke Ellington. Not surprisingly it features trumpets, trombones and saxophones.
- It was a very good year is another classic song, with Williams singing alongside Frank Sinatra, thanks to modern technology. According to Williams, he cried after being asked to perform the song, being overwhelmed by the idea of a dream come true.
- Straighten up and fly right was composed by Nat King Cole in 1943. Robbie Williams likes the title and claims it's his life motto, also especially enjoying the line "Your story's so touching but it sounds just like a lie".
- Well, did you evah got its popularity thanks to Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. It was written by Cole Porter, it featured in the 1956 movie High Society, while now performed by Williams and comedian Jon Lovitz (Saturday Night Live): "The song is two guys having this bitchy conversation at an elegant soiree".
- Mr. Bojangles was best performed by Neil Diamond in my opinion, but Sammy Davis, Jr. and Nina Simone include a whole other line of artists who covered the song. "I still can't bear the bit where his dog dies", Williams commented. Nicole Kidman added: "Robbie is a sweet soul and a great singer. His version of Mr. Bojangles made me cry."
- One for my baby features Bill Miller, aged 84, on piano. Miller played on Sinatra's original version as well.
- Things is a sweet nostalgic song written by Bobby Darin and performed by British actress Jane Horrocks alongside Williams. The song ends with a fierce discussion between the two.
- Ain't that a kick in the head is one of Robbie Williams' personal favourites. The song was written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy van Heusen and features veteran jazz drummer Harold Jones (Count Basie Orchestra), who said about Williams: "The kid really gets the swing thing".
- They can't take that away from me featured in The Barkley's of Broadway, a movie with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Rupe Everett assists Williams in this George and Ira Gershwin song, also previously performed by Perry Como.
- Have you met Miss Jones? was originally recorded for the soundtrack of the popular 2001 movie Bridget Jones's Diary. The Sinatra classic was written by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers and served as the initial inspiration for Williams to make an entire swing album.
- Me and my shadow shows a performance by his best friend Jonathan Wilkes: "We'd be with each other 24 hours a day if we could. The song really could have been written about us". They are said to sing it together in the shower at home...
- Beyond the sea smashed the hit lists twice in pop history. First song writer Charles Trenet performed the song in post-war France while in 1960, Bobby Darin used it to gain success. Jazz piano star Jim Cox improvises in the Williams version, which is also an ode to the musical The Sound of Music.