Jools Holland

World of His Own

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During his on-again off-again tenures with Squeeze, pianist Jools Holland's fondness for boogie-woogie and R&B seemed somehow out of step with Squeeze's reputation for delivering Beatlesque new wave pop. As a result, Holland often got shunted to the sidelines on the band's records. Turnabout is fair play, though, so A World of His Own features contributions from all of Holland's then-current Squeeze bandmates (as well as a crack horn section, Sting, and Holland's old Millionaires colleagues) -- and for this album, Holland's the one who is firmly in the driver's seat. For the most part, he forgoes trying to sound anything like Squeeze, and does what he does best -- he joyfully pounds his way through some polished but swinging jump tunes ("The Maiden's Lament," "Biggy Wiggy"); croons a few classic R&B sides (Percy Mayfield's "Danger Zone," Ray Charles' "In the Heat of the Night"); and generally has such a good time that it's almost impossible not to get caught up in the fun. Unfortunately, when Holland experiments with more modern sounds (such as the tedious three-part synthesizer suite "Thursday"), he gets too caught up in the mechanics of finicky multi-track production to find a groove, and the good times evaporate. Still, if you can program your CD player to skip the offending tracks, World of His Own offers up another solid helping of New Orleans-meets-South London bontemps roulez from the indefatigable Holland, surely one of Britain's greatest exponents of modern-day boogie-woogie.

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