Jools Holland – The Golden Age of Song – Album Review

Jools Holland has released a great new album of collaborations featuring a who’s who of vocalists. The album features some older artists and some much younger, including Jessie J, Tom Jones, Rumer, James Morrison, Paloma Faith, Joss Stone, Mick Hucknall, Gregory Porter, Ruby Turner, Amy Winehouse and Paul Weller, Lily Rose Cooper (née Allen), Paolo Nutini, Florence Welch, and Cee Lo Green.

Some tracks are newly recorded and others come from performances on Jools annual New Years Eve Hootenanny.

Here’s our views on each of the tracks.

1. Paloma Faith – Something’s Got a Hold On Me

A gospel like performance from Paloma Faith. For anyone that doesn’t know, Paloma is a tiny lady with an eccentric dress sense and a really powerful voice and that is fully featured here. A great opener for the album.

2. Rumer – Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive

A smooth cabaret like rendition, with some nice tinkling of the ivories by Jools and some sweet trumpet

3. Paolo Nutini – Lovin’ Machine (Hootenanny 2009)

A real Boogie Woogie outing that makes you tend to agree with Jools‘ and Charlie Watts’ belief that Boogie Woogie is the beginning of everything musical, but even more so it makes you want to move and cut some rug. A perfect party tune. If I am not mistaken, Paolo throws in some of his lyrics from Pencil Full of Lead here.

4. Joss Stone – Bei Mir Bist Du Schön

A dusky bluesy showing from Miss Stone, sexy as in the intro. Then it breaks into a reggae like beat. The song was originally a Yiddish tune from a 1932 comedy musical. This version features the German title, but Joss sings the Yiddish chorus Bei Mir Bistu Shein, the rest of the lyrics are in English.

5. Jessie J – Get Here

This is a far more current song. Originally written and released by Brenda Russell in 1988. A nice performance by Jessie J. She has a great, well trained voice and can really sing anything.

6. James Morrison – A Place In The Sun

Stevie Wonder song and James Morison‘s voice really has that Stevie Wondersound here. Similar to the original, but given the real Big Band treatment.

7. Amy Winehouse and Paul Weller – Don’t Go To Strangers (Hootenanny 2006)

This is a great performance and we have already included it on this site before, in Jools Holland’s Tribute to Amy Winehouse. We said it all then and we could say it again, but the best thing is to just listen to it.

8. Mick Hucknall – I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)

This is a pretty well known standard. This version uses the entire Big Band, but Joolspiano, Hucknell’s voice and Gilson Lavis‘ subtle drumming are to the fore. A nice tune, but not one of the best on the album.

9. Florence Welch – My Baby Just Cares For Me (Hootenanny 2009)

A song made famous by Nina Simone. It gets the Big Band treatment here and some of it is very good, but given the choice I prefer Nina Simone‘s simpler rendition.

10. Caro Emerald – Mad About the Boy

A very dramatic performance from Caro Emerald, this reminds me a little of a Shirley Bassey Bond Theme and I am sure that Shirley has performed and recorded this song. This features some nice horns that emphasise the drama.

11. Tom Jones – I’ll Sail My Ship Alone

You can’t go past “Jones the Voice”. I don’t know when this was recorded but Tom’s voice shows no sign of fading, unlike many of his contemporaries. He does these old bluesy songs so well. We’ll have this one on replay.

12. Cee Lo Green – Reet Petite (Hootenanny 2010)

If Tom Jones was The Voice of the past Cee Lo Green has got to be one of the best voices to emerge in recent years. This version of Reet Petite is true to the original and I understand that Jackie Wilson is one of Cee Lo‘s biggest influences.

13. Gregory Porter – Sweet Country Love Song

It’s getting superfluous to keep saying how good the voices are on this album, but Gregory Porter is no exception. This is a very Ray Charles like performance and so is Jools‘ piano playing.

14. Paul Weller – September in the Rain

A very unusual choice from Mr Weller, very unlike his normal Mod influences. A mid tempo ballad, with some great horns and an accordion that gives it a very French feel.

15. Lily Rose Cooper (née Lily Allen) – The Lady Is a Tramp (Hootenanny 2008)

This was a big surprise to me, better than I expected, even if it is far from the best vocal on the album. But Lily avoids her normal Mockney (mock cockney) accent on this. She struggles at the top of the register, but maybe with some training and practice she could be a real singer

16. Ruby Turner – Get Away Jordan

Ruby Turner is the vocalist that most often collaborates with Jools Holland. She puts in a gospel performance here. But I think the mix lets this track down a little. It sounds a little far back to me; it really needs to be in your face. I’ll give it a few more listens to see if it improves with familiarity.

17. Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra – When You’re Smiling

Jools singing himself on this one, not the strongest of voices, but obviously a song that he loves and everything is better when you’re smiling. Nice trumpet solo backed with a trotting rhythm.

All in all I think this album will appeal to anyone who appreciates good songs with great vocals and arrangements and it will especially appeal to fans of Later with Jools Holland and his annual New Years Eve Hootenanny.

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