Robbie Williams’ 'Swings Both Ways': What you need to know
Robbie Williams is a behemoth that has loomed large over Britain’s musical landscape for the last 15 years. He’s sold over 70 million records, won 17 Brit Awards (more than anyone else in history) and, in 2006, sold over 1.6 million gig tickets on a single day. And now he’s back, with his second attempt at a swing-influenced album with Swings Both Ways.
Williams has tried this trick before, back in 2001 with his fourth album Swing When You’re Winning, an album that followed hot on the heels of his supremely successful 2000 LP Sing When You’re Winning. That particular record only featured one original song, a track titled ‘I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen’ and was mostly made up of versions of standard made famous by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerland and Tony Bennett. It all featured a number of duets, including ‘Somethin’ Stupid’, which Williams recorded with actress Nicole Kidman and which took the 2001 Christmas Number One spot. Like everything Williams did around that time, the album sold very well indeed.
Well now, Williams taking another swing at this genre and here’s what you need to know about his latest attempt:
What’s The Background?
After a much maligned (but still pretty successful) last five years, Robbie Williams is on something of a hot streak right now. His last record Take The Crown was well-received by critics and the tour to promote that album saw Williams fill 26 stadiums across Europe, making over $20 million in the process.
This is the singer’s first solo output since 2010 as he’s spent the intervening years patching things up, recording and touring with former bandmates in Take That.
Who’s At The Controls?
For the first time in over a decade, Williams has reunited with collaborator Guy Chambers for a full album. Williams and Chambers collaborated on the singer’s first three solo albums, but parted ways after 2002’s Escapology and the ensuing 10 years have seen Williams work with a series of other producers, to varying degrees of success.
Now reunited, Chambers has overseen the whole record, with the exception of two bonus tracks, which were produced by Trevor Horn, who previously worked with Williams on 2009’s Reality Killed The Video Star.
Are there big name collaborators?
Of course. First of all there’s Williams’ new best friend Olly Murs who has supported him throughout his stadium tour, they’ve got together to record a duet of ‘I Wan’Na Be Like You’, which almost all of you will know from Disney’s classic The Jungle Book.
Also on the roster is the recently returned Lily Allen, who sings alongside Williams on a new version of ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’, a standard which has been covered over 60 times, but most famously by The Mamas & the Papas.
As well as this, there are also appearances from Kelly Clarkson, who joins in with Williams on ‘Little Green Apples’, Rufus Wainwright, who adds his distinctive tones to the album’s title track and the king of lounge swing himself Michael Buble, who helps Williams out on ‘Soda Pop’.
Does It Deliver?
If you loved Swing When You’re Winning then you will love this. It retains Williams’ cheeky take on a series of classic tracks with slick production and a real sense of warmth.