As someone who has gone on record as a fan of the Swingle Singers, it pains me to report that Rags And All That Jazz is a truly wretched excersise from conception to execution. A big part of the Swingles’ appeal lay in their prodigious, wordless vocal interplay, the way their voices became instruments/mere sounds in themselves. Ah, but this is Swingle II, so it is not the case here. In collaboration with a lyricist called Tony Vincent Isaacs, Ward Swingle foolishly recasts early Jazz and Ragtime melodies by the likes of Joplin, Morton and Armstrong into obvious, nostalgic evocations of America in the first half of the 20th century. Hamfisted vocal arrangements only make the triteness of Isaacs’ newly-written lyrics all the more eye-rollingly camp. And it’s got that really shitty hollow, I-just-bought-new-strings electric bass sound that should never be heard on music purporting to call itself “jazz”. Fugging yuck.