Click here to return to the main site.

Soundtrack Review

Cover Image

Songs on Film Live


Artist: Joe Stilgoe
Label: Beard Records
RRP: £9.99
Click here to buy
Release Date: 23 December 2013

As I sit, writing this review, in the shadow of the CD shelves in my office, it's quite striking how my musical taste varies. By far the most CDs are those dedicated to Cast Recordings, which forms the staple diet of my music listening, and also the majority of my reviews for this website. Second to that comes female vocalists, and lagging a poor third are the male of the species. So it's always refreshing when I get a new solo male recording to listen to.

Joe Stilgoe’s new album Songs On Film Live is the result of two sell out shows during the recent London Jazz Festival. "Who?", I hear you shout. Joe is of good stock - his mother is the opera singer Annabel Hunt, and his father is the wonderfully talented (and funny) Richard Stilgoe, who contributed the lyrics for Lloyd Webber's Startlight Express, as well as many other witty shows and reviews. In his own right, Joe is a singer, pianist, composer and entertainer touring constantly with his band and as a solo act, having appeared at Ronnie Scott's, the Royal Festival Hall, The Queen Elizabeth Hall, The Barbican, The London Jazz Festival, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Edinburgh Festival (Time Out Award), Henley Festival, Barbados Festival, Sardinia Jazz Festival, Sicily Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Dubai Jazz Festival and in jazz clubs from New York to Berlin to Kuala Lumpur.

On 17 November 2013 at St James Studio, London, pianist, singer, songwriter and self-confessed film nerd Stilgoe performed a brand new show celebrating the music that he grew up falling in love with. Songs on Film pays tribute to 100 years of Hollywood cinema through the music that aided and abetted its legend. From An American in Paris to The Apartment, from Casablanca to Catch Me If You Can, Joe and his remarkable band performed songs written for, and inspired by, some of the greatest films over the last century.

Inspired by them he may be, but I didn't find much inspiration in the album really. It opens with an instrumental 'overture' of famous animated themes entitled 'Cartooning Up', which whilst cleverly put together, it doesn't really go anywhere. Much of the beauty of cartoon music is its ingenious orchestration, which you can't really pull of with piano, bass and drums, no matter how skilled you are. And there are a few mistakes amongst the brilliance too, which would have certainly been pulled up and would have demanded a further take or drop-in on a studio recording.

Once Stilgoe is singing and playing, the album gets pretty much on home ground. It's a nice listen, the chat is natural and the music is sufficiently varied to make it enjoyable. There's some nicely delivered standards, such as 'Almost Like Being in Love' from Brigadoon, and 'S'Wonderful', which is. Each is delivered with Stilgoe's apparent ease and what comes across as a very natural talent. The top track for me is a nice combining of the Toy Story hit 'When She Loved Me' and 'Married Life', although I also loved his encore 'If I Only Had A Brain' which has a very laid back delivery, and is a real winner.

A worthwhile listen, but an album I feel could have been made more of. Would have been nice to have a bigger band, and to have some accuracies improved, but hopefully there will be more to come from Joe Stilgoe.


Ian Gude