Veteran crooner Tom Jones sings Soul tunes with the Gospel fervour of Elvis on a few tracks here. The combination of Jones powerful voice and some non-cheesy material is worth a listen.
Soul singer Carla Thomas penned the tune ‘More Than Memories’ sometime in the sixties during her tenure at the legendary Memphis label Stax. It’s Southern Soul through and through, with its Gospel touches and fat brass section. Incredibly as it may sound, it was never before recorded until now.
In comes Jones and revives the song with, it has to be said, great respect for the Memphis sound. ‘More Than Memories’ is clearly the standout track on this album for me. Soul songwriting and Jones voice are a win-win combination. He should try that more often. ‘More Than Memories’ would make an ace soundtrack for a romantic comedy.
With ‘More Than Memories’ in the bag, Jones goes on to give Bruce Springsteen’s tale of a boxer who goes down in a fixed match, ‘The Hitter’, the Southern Soul treatment. Crisp e-piano intro, intense vocals and cutting brass stabs make this a fairly unusual track for the Welsh singer.
‘The Hitter’ is the closest Jones has ever come to sounding like Elvis during his sessions at American studios in 1969, which produced ‘In The Ghetto’, ‘Long Black Limousine’ and ‘True Love Travels On A Gravel Road’. It’s a similar concoction of soulful, Gospel influenced vocals with slick but restrained backing. Classy stuff.
Jones manages to follow up this performance with a close second, ‘Seasons’, which hits that same intense Gospel note in the vocal delivery.
The opening track comes along like a hip edit of an obscure Disco Rock classic with the DJ layering a Tom Jones acappella over the top. ‘I’m Alive’ is the kind of track you could hear in a trendy bar when the voices get louder and the orders come faster.
Put out the track on 12″ vinyl with an obscure label and ‘I’m Alive’ would get picked up by many in-demand DJs. Psychedelic guitar loops, rock drum breaks and the bass pulled up to max, ‘I’m Alive’ is a dancefloor-friendly remake of a track by sixties Bubblegum Pop heroes Tommy James & The Shondells from their 1969 album ‘Crimson & Clover’.
Jones is belting it out like there’s no tomorrow. With that voice, the track will stand out on any night. And that booming ‘I’m Alive’ shriek is an advertiser’s dream. Check it out.
OK, that’s four tracks out of 14. After this it gets a bit dicey.
Top of the rest are ‘Give A Little Love’, which combines decent beats with brass stabs and a high energy Jones performance. ‘In Style And Rhythm’ showcases Jones the suave entertainer ad-libbing over brisk digital Bossa beats. There’s a touch of Swiss electronic pioneers Yello about this track.
‘Sugar Daddy’ was co-written by Jones with Bono and The Edge from U2. It’s a very accessible tune with the kind of main floor appeal that Jones ‘Sex Bomb’ had 10 years ago. The lyrics are either a tad cheesy or very tongue in cheek. You decide.
For the remainder of the album, Jones gets to work with material that’s pretty close to what he made his name with in the 1970’s. Updated sound-wise, but still firmly in the power ballad vein.
It’s almost ten years since ‘Reload’, the album that introduced a modernised Jones for a new pop audience, and it’s 15 years since his last US album release. ‘24 Hours’ puts an interesting mix of material into the hands of a versatile entertainer with a massive voice. The more daring the choice - Southern Soul and Psychedelic Rock - the better the result.
You can download ‘24 Hours’ here from iTunes UK.
US Readers - Buy ‘24 Hours’ On CD Here!
UK And Ireland Readers - Buy ‘24 Hours’ On CD Here!