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CD: Hugh Laurie - Let Them Talk | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Hugh Laurie - Let Them Talk

CD: Hugh Laurie - Let Them Talk

The successful actor lets his hair down with a retro jazz and blues selection

Easy going but flimsy vintage jazz and blues with Stephen Fry's old chum

Hugh Laurie knows we're going to be doubtful. He knows that this is a vanity project by the most successful TV actor on the planet, the man who is House. He could have walked into Warner Brothers and said he wanted to do an album of auto-tuned Euro-disco with David Guetta and some middle-management toady would undoubtedly have hit the green light. Thankfully he didn't.

Instead he's recorded a set of New Orleans-flavoured classic jazz and blues, music he's loved since his Oxford and Eton youth, assisted by Big Easy figureheads such as Dr John, Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint and, er, Tom Jones.

Laurie is a likeable fellow and, after a self-deprecating preamble acknowledging his absolute Englishness and that he's "one of those pampered ninnies", he says in the album blurb, "Why listen to an actor's music? The answer is - there is no answer. If you care about provenance and genealogy, then you should try elsewhere because I have nothing in your size." And nor does he. His clean jolly take on songs made famous by Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Bessie Smith, Ray Charles, etc, are his bit of fun, like Woody Allen's clarinet sideline. Laurie has an easy way with the piano and, despite his curious flat-yet-theatrical mid-Atlantic singing voice, if you came across this live in a pub or at a festival you'd likely smile and jig along. What's bemusing is that anyone would want these recorded versions when their riveting, gutsy, history-drenched twins exist. Still, Jools Holland's ongoing popularity shows it's a seam that's far from mined dry with the public.

A compilation - like the actor Martin Freeman's unexpected collection of Motown soul - would have been a preferable totem of love for "Saint James Infirmary", "Swanee River" and the rest of the lovely old songs Laurie plays. Unfortunately, while easygoing and an obvious pleasure for its maker, Laurie's album is too anaemic to convince outside the staid middle-class dinner-party circles to which, originally, as a teenager, his love of the blues was a raw, romantic antidote.

Watch short promo film Let Them Talk: An Introduction



Sure, a compilation would have seemed better for you lot who already know all about the blues inside and out . You would have bought it and everything else would have remained exactly the same. But: This record might also give the blues to a whole new audience. Isn't that much better ?

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