4 Memorable Jools Holland Keyboard Performances for Artists Other than Squeeze

Jools Holland is best-known as the original keyboardist for the English new wave band Squeeze and as the host of the long-running BBC Two music program Later… with Jools Holland. Yet some music fans may, perhaps unknowingly, be more familiar with Holland through his guest appearances on other artists’ records. In addition to performing on six Squeeze studio albums and dozens of solo records, Holland has appeared on numerous recordings by other artists spanning six decades.

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The following four songs are among the most notable ones that Holland has appeared on. Even though these were not performances for Squeeze or his own solo work, they rank among Holland’s most memorable.

“Good Thing” by Fine Young Cannibals

For most of this 1989 hit, Holland plays a piano part based on the guitar riff from Solomon Burke’s 1964 song “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love.” While not flashy, along with the accompanying David Steele bass line, it gives the song its bounce. Then, just shy of the two-minute mark, Holland busts out with a solo that makes this jaunty tune even jauntier.

Though Holland did not perform on any other tracks from The Raw and the Cooked, he provided one of the most memorable performances on an album that ranked sixth on Billboard’s year-end album chart for 1989. “Good Thing,” just like the album’s lead single “She Drives Me Crazy,” spent a week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was also used in the 1987 Barry Levinson movie Tin Men—a film in which Fine Young Cannibals appeared as a band performing in a nightclub. In his book Barefaced Lies and Boogie-Woogie Boasts, Holland noted his solo from “Good Thing” had been used in Chrysler ads.

“Uncertain Smile” by The The

Holland is a huge reason why “Uncertain Smile” persists as one of The The’s most popular songs (along with “This Is the Day”). The whole tune is pure genius, from the toy xylimba riff that kicks it off to Matt Johnson’s melancholy vocal performance. But the final half of the nearly seven-minute song belongs to Holland. His rollicking piano solo makes “Uncertain Smile” even more of a banger—albeit a sad one—than it already would have been.

The original version of “Uncertain Smile,” which clocked in at just under five minutes, did not include Holland’s solo, but ended instead with a sax solo by Crispin Cioe. Johnson rerecorded the song for Soul Mining, and this is the version that features Holland solo. As for why Johnson had Holland play on the album version, he said, “it was simply because we had such a nice sounding piano in such a nice sounding room.” In a 2014 interview for Uncut, Johnson recalled Holland told him that “he gets asked about that [solo] more than anything he’s ever done.”

The album version of “Uncertain Smile” made it to the final spot of the Top 100 on the UK Official Charts, but it did not chart in the U.S. It has fared much better in the streaming era, having been streamed more than 34 million times on Spotify, and its official audio has been played nearly 4 million times on YouTube.

“Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” by George Harrison

This cover of the standard first popularized by Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong appeared on Harrison’s posthumously released Brainwashed (2002). Holland is prominently featured in the official video for “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.” He is shown walking into a tent where Harrison is strumming a ukulele on stage, and he and his band have started to perform the song. Holland takes a seat at the piano, and midway through the tune, he launches into his boogie-woogie solo.

With more than 4 million streams, “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” is the second-most popular song from Brainwashed on Spotify, trailing only the radio hit “Stuck Inside a Cloud.” Harrison’s official video has also been viewed more than 1.6 million times, making it the most streamed version of the song on YouTube.

“The Girl in the Yellow Dress” by David Gilmour

The Pink Floyd guitarist isn’t known for his jazz compositions, but this smooth number is a highlight of his 2015 Rattle that Lock album. Holland doesn’t solo on “The Girl in the Yellow Dress,” but he adds just the right touch to this song about a woman who seduces both her dance partner and the sax player, whose playing she is dancing to. Along with Polly Samson’s lyrics and Gilmour’s smoky vocals, the playing of Holland and saxophonist Colin Stetson sets the mood and makes the listener feel as if they’re sitting in a club in the wee hours.

“The Girl in the Yellow Dress” has been streamed over 10 million times on Spotify, and with nearly 7 million views, the animated official video for the song is Gilmour’s second-most popular offering on YouTube, excluding live performances. Holland did not perform on any other tracks on Rattle that Lock, but he also played on Gilmour’s 2006 album On an Island. Both albums cracked the Top 10 of the Billboard 200.

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