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Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra 

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This 22-track collection is a blast. Not every track works: Marianne Faithfull's honky-tonk rendition of Dylan's God-fearing "You Got to Serve Somebody" is a mite wrongheaded, and Huey of the Fun Lovin' Criminals is out of his league on "Fly Me to the Moon." But most of the cuts rock hard, and Holland, who came to prominence in the chronically underrated pop band Squeeze, is an indefatigable bandleader -- and an astonishing keyboardist.

The hottest tracks are "Snowflake Boogie," a roof-raising blues romp by Edwin ("War!") Starr, who recorded this last October -- and died in early April; Bryan Ferry's smoky original, "The Only Face"; and Tom Jones's salacious "Don't You Kiss My Cheek." This expertly played, imaginatively conceived collection shows why Holland and his big band are so popular in Europe. Every guest artist seems to enjoy working with Holland and his boys, from Dionne Warwick to Ray Davies to Robert Plant and Jeff Beck. These cuts are neither cameos nor rehab projects, however; they're full-bodied, swinging, and fun. Count on a gang of Brits to put the freshness back in funk.

More by Carlo Wolff

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