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Reviewed April 29th, 2002 by Brian White


Who the hell is Robbie Williams anyway? That’s what most consumers in North America will probably say. Williams is HUGE in Europe. Expect to hear a lot more from Mr. Williams very soon, as EMI has just handed him the moon on a plate for his new contract. He’s funny, he’s talented, and he should be a bigger star… Which brings us to this DVD:

Every music journalist dumped on Robbie Williams for his standards album, Swing When You’re Winning, and the accompanying concert film Live at the Albert. Robbie had reached a critical and commercial peak (in Europe, anyway) with Sing When You’re Winning. He claims he wanted to “take a break from Robbie,” so he recorded an album of Rat Pack classics in the Capitol Studios, where his heroes recorded. So impressed was the Sinatra estate with what it heard of Williams’ recordings that they offered Frank’s vocals for It Was a Very Good Year.

Live at the Albert is a one-off performance of the songs from the record at the Royal Albert Hall. There are guest appearances from duetters Jon Lovitz and Jane Horrocks. Nicole Kidman does not appear to perform “Something Stupid.”

The record and concert film came out at Christmas in England, and the press that had fawned over the fallen angel (Williams was kicked out of an extremely popular British Boy band, only to spiral into rehab before launching a very successful solo career), started to throw stones. Despite the griping, the record sold very well in Europe, and Something Stupid, a duet with Kidman, achieved the coveted British Christmas Number One position last year.

If Swing When You’re Winning and Live at the Albert are taken in the correct context, a side project where the singer got to live out a personal dream, then you really can’t dump on it. The band is amazing, and Mr. William’s vocal range does no injustice to the source material.

This is a very well produced concert video in every sense. Despite some sailor speak, this is a classy affair. It looks like it was a fun evening, and the disc is very entertaining.

The video is top-notch. Filmed in 1.78:1, anamorphic. Rupert Everett, the MC, makes some comment about High-Definition video recording. It looks great, if a little slanted toward close-ups on Mr. Williams’ mug (for the screaming girls, methinks). Mr. Williams’ star power is evident in the production value seen here. I wish more concert videos had anamorphic widescreen!

Like the video, the audio is really spectacular. It is interesting to hear a large band in 5.1 surround. The concert is very well recorded, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix shines.

For extras, there’s a great documentary on the recording of the album; a little catching up with Robbie featurette, for those of us across the pond who are new to the phenomenon; the making of the “Something Stupid” video (sorry, no footage of Nicole Kidman getting her “costume” into place for the love scene); and the Something Stupid video itself. This is a generous set of extras for a concert video.

Track Listing:

- Have You Met Miss Jones?
- Mack The Knife
- Straighten Up And Fly Right
- Let's Face The Music And Dance
- Well, Did You Evah (with Jon Lovitz)
- The Lady Is A Tramp
- Things (with Jane Horrocks)
- One For My Baby
- Mr Bojangles
- I Will Talk And Hollywood Will Listen
- Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me
- Beyond The Sea
- Me And My Shadow (with Jonathan Wilkes)
- Ain't That A Kick In The Head
- It Was A Very Good Year
- My Way


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