Rod Stewart with Jools Holland - Swing Fever

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2024 release

It's a pairing that, in retrospect, seems inevitable. Rod Stewart started to sing standards at the dawn of the 2000s, turning his excursion into the Great American Songbook into a regular standard. Jools Holland played barrelhouse piano from the outset of his career, sneaking some boogie woogie onto Squeeze albums as early as Cool for Cats, where he co-wrote and sang "Hop, Skip, and Jump." Holland later became a star in his own right as a television presenter, launching his long-running music show Later…With Jools Holland in 1992.

Later invited musicians of all stripes onto its stage, but one artist who never entered the studio was Stewart -- not out of animosity but circumstance. The singer put a halt to that situation in 2023. Attempting to return to standards after a decade singing original material, Stewart grew frustrated with his results, so he called Holland out of the blue, asking if he and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra might be interested in cutting a record together. Quickly recognizing a kindred spirit, Holland accepted and the pair made Swing Fever, a record steeped in jump blues, boogie woogie, and other manners of swinging R&B. In form, it's not far removed from Stewart's Great American Songbook albums, generally relying on songs written prior to the onset of rock & roll ("Good Rockin' Tonight," which was memorably covered by Elvis Presley, was a jump blues written by Roy Brown and popularized by Wynonie Harris in 1947).

In execution, it's wildly different, thanks to Holland and his big band. Possessing a big, bawdy swagger, Holland and his band are an ideal match for a singer as playful as Stewart, giving him the freedom to swing, scat, and smile with glee. Where Rod often seemed a little mannered, even stuffy, on the Great American Songbook albums, he's singing with an evident grin here, with a cheerful sound matched by Holland's pounding piano and the band's big, bustling rhythms. There's a palpable sense of joy, all derived from the musicians working live in the studio: they're getting a kick out of their collaboration and it's hard for the listener not to get swept up in the excitement with them.

Stephen Thomas Erlewine


SKU 5054197801686
Barcode # 5054197801686
Brand Warner Records

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