But before you pack me off to the blue rinse brigade and afternoons of bingo just listen to what I have to say in my defence.
If you take away the Las Vegas cabaret stuff and the appearances on Morecambe and Wise etc old Tom has got quite a bit of musical credibility. Numerous classic pop singles from several decades, success on both sides of the Atlantic and when you actually listen to them a pretty incredible set of pipes. I never bought into the theory that he was the British Elvis. For a start I would say he has far more of a voice than Presley, and I was brought up on ‘The King’ as my mother possessed every Elvis album going so I should know!
As a part of my ‘real’ job I have to interview people in some pretty strange places. Anyway, one day I was waiting for someone in a run down back street public house somewhere in central England. It was late afternoon and the only other person in there, beside the barmaid, was an old man in a raincoat and flat cap. The rain was beating at the windows and the place was old and untouched by modern technology. It could have been anytime from 1940 onwards everything was looking pretty bleak. Suddenly from nowhere music blared out around the empty room. What sounded like an intro from a typical sixties pop single filled the air and was soon joined by a booming voice which was unmistakable as Tom Jones. By the time the sax solo came in I was convinced I had discovered time travel and had somehow landed back in the sixties. But how come I had never heard the song before. Then the song ended and a radio DJ announced it was Tom Jones’ new single ‘If He Should Ever Leave You’. Now I was totally convinced I had become a time traveler. For some reason the single must have been pulled. If I got to a record shop and bought all the copies I could bring them back to 2008 and sell them for extortionate amounts to record collectors. Then the person I was meeting came in and it was clear I was still in 2008.
Well the dream of time travel may have disappeared but the memory of the song didn’t and it stayed annoyingly in my head for several days. Then on the Friday night some TV chat show was on and who should pop up but …. yes you’ve guessed it Tom Jones playing his new single. I started comparing it to the classic Scott Walker tracks of the sixties. Well that was the last straw. It was ridiculous. I had to check this out. It was just too good, but it was Tom Jones. Surely it was just a one off. The bloke wasn’t that good was he. There was nothing for it, I had to blag myself a pre-release copy of the album to put me out of my misery and find out the truth. Was Tom Jones the missing link in my collection. In my appreciation of classic vocalists was he the natural bridge between Scott Walker and David Coverdale. There are after all many similarities in their voices and delivery if you study them closely enough.
Well I duly got a copy of the album and I was more than pleasantly surprised. This was indeed the type of album that Scott Walker should be making today rather than that pig bashing weird stuff he’s knocking out. Even Coverdale should consider going down this route in my opinion rather than regurgitating old Whitesnake tracks in half empty halls.
The opening five tracks ‘I’m Alive’, ‘If He Should Ever Leave You’, ‘We Got Love’, ‘Feels Like Music’ and ‘Give a Little Love’ are absolutely blinding. It should be pointed out here that my pre-release copy has a slightly different track listing to the one on the right. I have ‘Feels Like Music’ after ‘We Got Love’ and ‘More Than Memories’ is omitted. I believe this may be the general UK issue and the one listed on here is the US version. The other highlights are the final two tracks ‘Seen That Face’ which has a great guitar solo at the end and the almost Jacques Brel like title track. Sadly the middle part of the album has a little too much filler and this pushes the rating down a little but it was still a surprising and pleasant find.
So please don’t consign me ….. or Tom Jones for that matter to the scrap heap just yet.