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Tom Jones
Biography and albums

Article added in July 2000 - Praise and Blame added on July 23, 2010

 
Article added in July 2010
Thomas Jones Woodward was born in Pontypridd, South Wales, in 1940. He sang in the Church choir. At the age of 16, he fathered a child with his teenage love who married the Welsh son of a coal miner of the Rhondda Valley 44 years ago - when he was still a poor bricklayer. Despite Jones' numerous affairs, the couple is still together. Their son, by the way, is Tom Jones' manager.
 
He worked, among others, as a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. In the evening, he performed in bars, where Gordon Mills, his first manager, spotted him. Tom Jones sounded black and sexy and knew how to move. In 1964, the two men landed a record contract with Decca. Already his second single, It's Not Unusual, became an international hit. Within a year, he was a superstar and remained on that level in the 1960s and 1970s. He recorded hits such as Help Yourself, Never Fall in Love Again, She's A Lady, Delilah and Green Green Grass Of Home.
 
In 1969, Tom Jones was offered a television show by ABC. Among his guests were Elvis Presley, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, The Bee Gees, Smokey Robinson, Kirk Douglas, Elliot Gould, Peter Sellers and many more.
 
A dark period followed in the early 1980s. Torn to pieces by the critics, abandoned by the public and his label, his career seemed over when, in 1987, his comeback began with A Boy From Nowhere from the musical play Matador which reached #2 in the UK charts. It's Not Unusual was re-released. In 1988 followed cover versions of Kiss (Prince), performed together with The Art of Noise.
 
Smaller successes followed in the 1990s, but only the album Reload (September 1999) allowed him to reach the top again. In a commercially intelligent move, he recorded Reload with mostly young musicians who opened him the doors to the new generation, a public he would not have reached otherwise. At the same time, these able musicians helped him create a sound unknown for years. But even with his new album, Tom Jones has not completely lost his trashy image.
 
On Reload Tom Jones performs, together with Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, Iggy Pop's Lust For Life. Van Morrison, Zucchero, The Stereophonics (Mama Told Me Not To Come) and Robbie Williams are some of the other musicians who recorded duets with the Tiger. Nothing was left out, not even the obligatory slushy Christmas tune (Baby It's Cold Outside). Burning Down The House with the Cardigans and, above all, Sex Bomb with Mousse T. are the highlights on Reload, which, once more, offers more cover versions of well-known songs than new material.
 
Tom Jones has one of the most incredible and sexiest male voices in show business, comparable to greats like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley (in completely other genres of course). This comparison of course sheds a bad light on his accomplishments. For years he has worked with pitiful musicians and arrangements. Instead of becoming one of the all time greats, he has produced some of the worst kitsch on the market. His main problem: He is no songwriter and depends an material written by others. What a waste of talent! Hopefully, he can partly catch up in the future - there is no voice like Tom Jones'.
 

Added on November 15, 2002: Tom Jones: Mr. Jones. Album released on November 4, 2002, recorded together with Wyclef Jean. Get the CD from Amazon.fr, Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk. On past CDs, Tom Jones often delivered a sound too cheaply produced. This is not the case on Mr. Jones. The album convinces on the instrumental and technical side. Behind Mr. Jones stands the ex-Fugee Wyclef Jean, who made himself a name as a Hip Hop producer and successful songwriter and/or producer for artists as diverse as Carlos Santana, Mick Jagger, U2, Whitney Houston or Sarah Connor. However, new catchy tunes are rare among the 12 songs. Black Betty and I Who Have Nothing are solid cover versions. Solid is the term which best sums up the album. In Younger Days the singer shows his self-ironic side. Tom Jones International will become a hit. It is one of the songs on Mr. Jones which Tom Jones co-wrote for the first time in his career. The album's highlight is the soul song Feel The Rain on which the potential of the Tiger's unique voice comes best to light. - Sheet music by Tom Jones.


Photo © Marco Grob - Universal Music.


Added on July 23, 2010: Brand new by Tom Jones: Praise & Blame. Island / Universal, Juli 2010. Order the audio CD from Amazon.de or Amazon.co.uk. Order the Praise & Blame Vinyl LP from Amazon.de. - Sheet music by Tom Jones. With the help of producer Ethan Johns, Tom Jones has recorded eleven new songs. Praise & Blame is a back-to-the-roots-album with no overdubbing. The Tiger is just accompanied by a rhythm group. In addition to the session musicians Ethan Jones, Dave Bronze and Jeremy Stacey, Tom Jones has invited guest musicians such as Booker T. Jones, BJ Cole, Chris Holland, Orin Waters and Gillian Welsh. At the age of 70, Tom Jones' rendition of songs that inspired him as a teenager is a sensation. Among the musical milestones are Burning Hell by John Lee Hooker, What Good Am I by Bob Dylan, Did Trouble Me by Susan Werner or If I Give My Soul by Billy Joe Shaver. Tom Jones himself considers Praise & Blame an honest and personal album. Its a different Tom Jones. No glamour. No gimmicks. Among my many favorites is Lord Help, composed by Jesse May Hemphill. Four songs have been written by Tom Jones and Ethan Jones. Maybe the best of them is Run On. A great, straightforward album!




Photo © Marco Grob - Universal Music.




Photo © Marco Grob - Universal Music.


 

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