Friday, 24 July 2015

7 inch singles collection: Jools Holland - Holy Cow

Later with...


A-Side: Holy Cow
B-Side: Biggy Wiggy
(IRS 1990)      

It seems like Jools Holland has been the smiling, enthusiastic, if a little sardonic host of Later... on BBC2 forever, (an entertaining, eclectic, but often frustrating programme), and whilst he often backs his guests on the piano, it's sometime easy to forget that he is a musician in his own right. Through the years he has spoardically released a variety of his own releases, much of which tend towards the jazzier end of the musical spectrum.

Holy Cow is a well known composition - in fact I probably bought it because I'd heard several different versions of it before, so I knew that I actually liked the song itself. It was written by Allen Toussaint - a name that may not be generally familiar, but is well regarded by aficionados of New Orleans style boogie woogie and R'n'B. Holy Cow has a light jazz bounce and a rhythm that bobs up and down like riding a horse - in this version that rhythm has an almost Ska-like feel to it. This isn't a one man show either, Jools is generous and lets both saxophonist and guitarist have good solos, keeping his piano down in the mix, and not letting it come forward until the end of the song. The vocals are low-key and unobtrusive, and oddly enough the backing vocals are performed by Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. This should be good, but there's something a little lacking, any energy here comes from the song itself and not the performance - it's not without charm, but there are plenty of better versions of this song around.

Jools has committed one of his own compositions to the flip-side - Biggy Wiggy. With a title like that I think we all know that we're not getting something deep and serious, but it's not an entirely throwaway frivolity either. Biggy Wiggy has a bit more of that piano boogie that drums up the gets the body moving. I was unable to stop myself from moving about to the beat of this one - which means that it must be doing something right. A different vocalist, sorry forgot to check the name, has been drafted in on this, and he has a fine jazz voice, that adds to the song without overwhelming it.

Jools Holland should rightly be regarded as a bit of a national treasure for his constant curatorship and propagation of all varieties and styles of music, but respect is due to for his own musical skills, especially when he's letting loose with his own stuff.

Next time a trip to the dark continent...

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