Jools Holland Best Of Friends Review

Compilation. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

If you like him, you’ll love this.

Daryl Easlea 2007

Jools Holland: surely won't be long before the fourth plinth on Trafalgar Square is occupied with his statue. His vision to enjoy himself, act as a tasteful musical arbiter and share his influences with the general public has now given him a glittering 30 year career. To tie in with the publication of his autobiography, Barefaced Lies & Boogie-Woogie Boasts comes this CD/DVD package of him, his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra and the best selections from his well-thumbed Rolodex of stellar chums.

Some of this is fairly standard boogie fare, but there are moments of beauty. Possibly the most unfashionable pairing of all time, Holland and the Stereophonics, deliver a truly beautiful version of Ewan McColl’s "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face". The song may indeed be unbreakable, but this version really is something else. Shane MacGowan sounds on the verge of collapse on "Just To Be Home With You", and long-time collaborator Sam Brown delivers the genuinely warm "Valentine Moon". To add extra poignancy, Best Of Friends has several selections from those who are no longer with us: George Harrison steps up with one of his final recordings, "Horse To Water"; Edwin Starr sings a rambunctious "Snowflake Boogie" and Joe Strummer plays himself perfectly on "The Return Of The Blues Cowboy" – to hear them again sounding so relaxed in the freewheeling company is heart-warming.

However, there are some troublespots – Tom Jones' "Think" and the Orchestra alone blazing through "Tuxedo Junction" are enough to make any reasonable soul feel queasy. But it will never matter what I or anybody say, with his sell out tours, slick packaging of good time music (not to mention his many commitments as television personality and Deputy Lieutenant of Kent) makes him as rightfully popular as he is. If you like him, you’ll love this. If you don’t, go back to Joan As Policewoman. An accompanying DVD of the making of album and a Gilson Lavis (surely the world’s greatest drummer) interview further add to the fun.

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