As a sophisticated balladeer, the ex-Real Madrid player remains in the premier league...
Alwyn Turner 2006-11-30
A lot has happened in music since Julio Iglesias’ last English-language album (1994’s Crazy), not least the extraordinary explosion of Latin pop that has propelled his son, Enrique, to stardom; not that you'd notice from listening to ‘Romantic Classic’s'. Here, time has stood still - freezing Julio in his cover-pose as ageless Lothario.
Nothing wrong with that, of course; Julio fans know what they like and he doesn’t disappoint. As a sophisticated balladeer, the ex-Real Madrid player remains in the premier league, and there’s a hat-trick of songs on this new set that reminds you how good he can be.
The Cars’ song “Drive” is recast as the ultimate last-dance smooch, whilst his reading of Charlie Rich’s “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World” has him sounding like she really has just walked out on him. And if the version of the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?” doesn’t reach the heights of Al Green’s rendition, it’s still lovely in its own right.
Elsewhere, however, there is sometimes too faithful a following of the original material. The central group of musicians is augmented by a solo trumpet on “This Guy’s In Love With You”, by a saxophone on “Careless Whisper” and by a harmonica on “Everybody’s Talking”, all playing note-for-note recreations of the familiar parts.
In such settings, it’s left to Julio’s heavily accented passion to add some vigour to the proceedings – and, on the whole, he does manage to save these weaker arrangements.
Produced by Albert Hammond and Robbie Buchanan, the album has the requisite highly polished sheen and – without guest-stars, duets or gimmicks – it glides effortlessly and organically through a collection of songs that, Julio says, are ‘as familiar as memories’. The only jarring note is the final bonus track, “Dance All Night”, a slightly creaky take on that Latin pop favoured by his offspring.