Jools Holland and His Millionaires — Jools Holland and His Millionaires

This first solo record by Jools Holland came out in 1982, and I think I got it around 1983. I was such a huge Squeeze fan at that time, and although Jools had left Squeeze, his keyboard sound was something I really loved, and I was an easy target for solo Jools. The cover is great, a retro cool look. The backup singers have the great name of “The Wealthy Tarts.” It’s got Jools Holland doing his thing. This should be one of my favorite albums ever; instead, it’s barely listenable.

Jools Holland and His Millionaires front cover
You couldn’t look more New Wave retro-cool than this.

Ah, the ’80s. What the heck are these production values? Is it gated reverb? Too much compression? Is it something worse? Yes, you can hear every instrument individually. So individually that it doesn’t sound like the keys, bass and drums are involved in the same recording. Only a couple of tracks sound like anything you’d want to listen to again . . . and honestly, it felt that way when it came out. “Goodbye World” is a great track, if you like jaunty tunes about suicide, and “Bumble Boogie” is rollicking and lively, as is “When I’m Through.” The record was produced by Glyn Johns, who previously had a drum recording method named for himself, but perhaps by the time this came about he was more open to the new sounds, because this does not sound like the drums on his Led Zeppelin records. The keys are muted. The saxophone sounds like a papercut. Sometimes Jools’s vocals sound like he was in the next room. The whole sound is unsatisfying. Still, I’ve never gotten rid of it, Maybe it’s the great cover.

Jools Holland and His Millionaires back cover
Jools Holland and His Millionaires back cover

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