Album: Robbie Williams

Swing When You're Winning, Chrysalis
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The Independent Culture

It's to be hoped that there are other worlds on which human life could be sustained, because Robbie Williams' planet-sized ego is leaving the rest of us with precious little space on this one. Judging by the sleeve photos parodying classic Sinatra poses, he now considers himself Frankie's heir, though his grasp of swing essentials is less secure than, say, Harry Connick Jr's. This latest salvo in his progress towards all-round entertainerdom opens with the breathtakingly arrogant "I Will Talk And Hollywood Will Listen", in which embarrassing references to Kevin Spacey and "Mr Spielberg, look what you're missing" hint bluntly at the singer's desire to muscle into movies. Hence too, perhaps, the choice of thespians over singers for the album's duets, a risky move that pays off on "Well, Did You Evah", which profits from Jon Lovitz's comic levity, but rebounds badly on "They Can't Take That Away From Me", where Rupert Everett essays a vastly superior impression of Sinatra than Robbie, and particularly on a ghastly demolition of "Things", where his and Jane Horrocks' apparent ignorance of the song's wistful quality, together with the flatulent Light Programme-style arrangement, renders the result cheesy rather than Bobby Darin-cool. Despite the presence of such able players as saxist Pete Christlieb, trumpeter Chuck Findley and pianist Bill Miller, the arrangements display little natural affinity for the style.