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Robbie Williams: Swings Both Ways

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Robbie Williams really knows how to swing. He demonstrated so in 2007 with the Rat Pack-scented Swing When You’re Winning, and he proves himself even hipper across this collection of 13 covers and originals. That he can expertly shape a jaunty “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” bump and grind with glee on “Minnie the Moocher,” shimmy with Olly Murs through the Sherman Brothers’ “I Wan’na Be Like You” and, giving the brassy orchestra a brief rest, embrace the pensive warmth of “If I Only Had a Brain” comes as no surprise.

Of greater delight are the new tunes, sparkling with puckish sardonicism. He hoists a middle finger to his detractors on the bluesy rocker “Shine My Shoes,” and, teamed with Michael Bublé, fashions a no-apologies tally of the perks of superstardom on “Soda Pop,” a thumping, Benny Goodman-esque romp that bears more than a passing resemblance to that Italian ode to hedonistic pleasure, “To Vuò Fa’ l’Americano.” Most profound is the inky, romantic “Swing Supreme.” Most fun is the title track, penned by Rufus Wainwright, a wonderfully witty primer on the career advantages of sexual versatility, with Williams’ Dean Martin in sweet harmony with Wainwright’s cheeky blend of Judy Garland and Jerry Lewis.

Originally Published