BMG - 2004 - 39 minutes

The Westlife tried and trusted formula has been broken. The cynics were surely rubbing their hands with glee, waiting for them to fall flat on their faces, with the mention of this Rat Pack-inspired collection but, credit where it's due, 'Allow Us To Be Frank' is a spirited and polished piece of work, that doesn't disappoint.

It was a brave move on the part of the four lads to reproduce music that defined such an influential era. Nothing was ever going to top the original versions of 'When I Fall In Love' and 'Fly Me To The Moon', from such greats as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. That much was certain.

But Westlife have risen above that fact, taking pride in the second best label - and truly earning it. Nothing is spared on musical arrangement here, with every effort made to recreate the original big band sounds. Individual vocals are impressive throughout the album, and often more effective than the group efforts. With no offence intended, you could listen to this and never realise it was Westlife, which in many people's minds might be a testament to just how far they've come as a group.

A tremendous gravelly take on 'Moon River' particularly stands out from the other tracks, as not trying too hard to sound like the work of predecessors, while a spirited version of 'Clementine' also serves to underline the progression of the quartet to this point. Brimming over with effort and enthusiasm, it highlights the versatility of a group that a lot of us were quite happy to pigeonhole.

This is a foot-tapping, finger-clicking collection that you'll play over and over. Dare I say, but I don't think Frank himself would have been insulted.

Linda McGee

Tracklisting: Ain't That A Kick in the Head - Fly Me to the Moon - Smile - Let There Be Love - The Way You Look Tonight (featuring Joanne Hindley) - Come Fly with Me - Mack the Knife - I Left My Heart in San Francisco - Summer Wind - Clementine - When I Fall in Love - Moon River - That's Life.