Expectations were high for Jools Holland's solo career when he first left Squeeze in 1980. Even though Holland was theoretically only a support player in the Difford & Tilbrook-fronted band, his flair for the spotlight was obvious in Squeeze's live shows, as well as on the occasional B-side or album track in which he was featured. Throw in the swinging Boogie Woogie 78 EP (Holland's solo debut, made while he was with Squeeze), and it seems that everything was leading up to Jools Holland and the Millionaires being an accomplished and fun full-length debut from the U.K.'s favorite piano-pounding hepcat. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way. For whatever reason, Holland chose to downplay his rock & roll and boogie-woogie strengths for large portions of this record, and instead focused on creating Squeeze-style new wave pop. Not that there's anything wrong with that in theory; the problem is that in actual practice, most of the songs on Jools Holland and the Millionaires lack Squeeze's pop savvy and catchy hooks. (Not to mention musicianship; while the Millionaires' lineup is perfectly adequate, the guitars and drums of Squeeze stalwarts Glenn Tilbrook and Gilson Lavis aren't easily replaced.) Further undermining the already somewhat patchy material is an uncharacteristically thin production job by Glyn Johns; the one track produced by Pete Wingfield, a romp through "Bumble Boogie," absolutely sparkles in comparison to the rest of the record. Overall, while there are a few fun songs and performances dotted throughout the LP (especially "Bumble Boogie," "Dynaflow," and "One More Time"), Jools Holland and the Millionaires ultimately has to be classified as a rather disappointing release that's recommended only to Squeeze and/or Holland completists. Luckily, Holland would rebound from this and go on to create work (both as a solo artist and with a re-formed Squeeze) of a much higher caliber.
AllMusic Review by Rudyard Kennedy