Tag Archives: Tom Jones

Meanwhile, back at the blog …

Earlier this year, we shared an appreciation of four music greats who are still with us: Chuck Berry, Little RichardJerry Lee Lewis and Tina Turner. They’re my four. Yours may be different.

Yet that train keeps bearing down on us, taking Scotty Moore, Mack Rice, Bernie Worrell, Ralph Stanley, Wayne Jackson and Chips Moman this month alone. Since we last gathered here, Guy Clark, Candye Kane, Billy Paul, Lonnie Mack and Prince also have left the building.

In a year in which we have lost so many music legends, it seems wise to not stop at four. It also seems wise to not wait too long.

So here are four more music greats who are still with us, all of them still going strong. This is by no means the B team, or the second tier, or anything like that. Just four more worth appreciating here and now.

Mavis Staples, 76. The beloved gospel/soul/R&B singer released a wonderful new record, “Livin’ On A High Note,” in February. That same month, “Mavis,” a documentary profile, premiered on HBO. She’s playing gigs across North America through November, then will receive Kennedy Center Honors in December.

anti hot wacks

“Revolution,” Mavis Staples, from “Hot Wacks,” 2013, a compilation of artists on the Anti- label. A distinctive cover of the Beatles song from one who’s long sung about revolution.

Tom Jones, 76. Sir Tom is performing gigs across Europe this summer in support of “Long Lost Suitcase,” a roots record released last October as the final part of a trilogy that also includes “Praise & Blame” and “Spirit In The Room,” which came out in 2010 and 2012, respectively. “Long Lost Suitcase” also is the companion piece to his memoirs, “Over The Top And Back.” It’s been a tough year, though. His wife of 59 years, Linda, died in April.

tom jones this is tj lp

“Dance of Love,” Tom Jones, from “This is Tom Jones,” 1969. It’s a tune written and done first by Charlie Rich in 1965 on the Smash label.

Dennis Coffey, 75. This Funk Brother is still playing some mean rock and jazz guitar “in the D.” He tweets out his shows at @DennisCoffeyDET, announcing on relatively short notice that he’ll be at the Northern Lights Lounge — his most frequent Detroit gig — or at Motor City Wine, or at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe. His blog is recommended reading. Coffey shares lots of good stories there. Likewise his discography for record collectors. His last record, the solid, self-titled “Dennis Coffey,” came out on Strut Records in 2011. It’s worth checking out.


“Never Can Say Goodbye,” Dennis Coffey, from “Goin’ For Myself,” 1972. A cover of the Jackson 5 tune on which Coffey demonstrates a little bit of soul, a little bit of funk and a bit more jazz.

Gladys Knight, 72. Another of the great ladies of soul, she’s playing gigs in Europe and the United States through October. A solo act for almost 30 years now, she hasn’t had the late-career success of her peers. Widely known today for lush ballads and inspirational songs, Gladys Knight belongs here because of her energetic performances with the Pips in the late ’60s and earliest ’70s on Motown’s Soul label. She really did get down to the real nitty gritty, kids.

gladys knight pips nitty gritty lp

“(I Know) I’m Losing You,” Gladys Knight and the Pips, from “Nitty Gritty,” 1969. When I heard this cut on Sirius XM not too long ago, I was reminded that this is one of my favorite LPs. And, yeah, that’s Dennis Coffey playing guitar on the “Nitty Gritty” single and his wah-wah, fuzz-toned lick about 11 seconds into the intro of “Friendship Train.”


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Filed under June 2016, Sounds

A little variety from Ray’s Corner

There was a crisis at Ray’s Corner the other day.

My dad, who is 87, dropped his TV remote. It shattered. Without it, he can’t watch TV. Watching TV has been my dad’s main source of entertainment for as long as I can remember. You can see where this might be a problem. So we got him a new remote and managed to fix the old one.

However, there still are no variety shows for him to watch.

In the ’60s and ’70s, we frequently heard the sophisticated pop songs of Hal David and Burt Bacharach on those shows. At the time, they worked most often with singer Dionne Warwick, of whom David once said: “She always interprets my lyrics in a way that sounds as though she had written them herself.”

Four years ago, I took Dad to see Dionne Warwick.  I was certain Dad would remember her from those long-ago variety shows. He didn’t. But once his hearing aid was adjusted, and he heard the songs, he recognized them. That night, Warwick performed two Bacharach-David tunes — “I Say A Little Prayer” and “Do You Know The Way To San Jose” — with new, Latin-flavored arrangements and new phrasing. They sounded just fine.

That’s what makes them classics, and why the songs of Hal David — who died earlier today at 91 — are timeless. No matter who interprets them, they usually sound just fine. (Well, those Isaac Hayes covers might be an acquired taste.)

David and Bacharach worked together from 1957 to 1973, an arc that matches the first 16 years of my life, a time often spent watching TV with my dad. Enjoy, as we did, a little variety, some of the most familiar versions of Hal David’s songs, and some covers.

“What The World Needs Now Is Love,” Jackie DeShannon, 1965, from “The Very Best Of Jackie DeShannon,” 1975. The original version. David and Bacharach didn’t think this was such a good song after they wrote it. “We put it away in our desk drawer and kept it hidden there for 10 months,” David once said. “A flop, we thought.”

“This Guy’s In Love With You,” Al Wilson, from “Searching For The Dolphins,” 1968. Herb Alpert did the original version earlier that year.

“(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me,” R.B. Greaves, from “R.B. Greaves,” 1969. Warwick did the original version as a demo in 1963. Lou Johnson had the first hit with it in 1964. It’s such a great song that it became a hit all over again in 1983 for the British synth-pop duo Naked Eyes.

“One Less Bell to Answer,” the 5th Dimension, from “Portrait,” 1970. Out of print, but available digitally. The original version, with Marilyn McCoo’s tremendous vocals.

Finally, a little glimpse of one of those old variety shows.

That’s Tom Jones, of course, doing “What’s New Pussycat.” In 1965, he did the original, for which David and Bacharach were nominated for an Oscar for best original song.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under September 2012, Sounds

Tom Jones, R&B shouter

The things you discover when the iPod is on shuffle play during a workout.

Today, this song came up, pretty much at top volume, as I lumbered around the track at the Y. There are a couple thousand songs on my iPod. I know most of them, but I don’t know them all. I didn’t recognize this one.

A check of the iPod after the workout revealed that this mystery R&B shouter was none other than a young Tom Jones.

It’s 1965, he’s 25 and he’s covering “I Need Your Lovin’,” a curiously paced tune that had been a hit for Don Gardner and Dee Dee Ford in 1962. In the original, and in TJ’s blistering cover, things cook nicely, then come to a complete halt, then rev back up again.

“I Need Your Loving,” Tom Jones, from “It’s Not Unusual,” 1965. It’s out of print. The song is available digitally as part of “Chronicles,” an out-of-print 2005 CD box set with three of TJ’s mid-’60s LPs: This one, plus “What’s New Pussycat?” from 1965 and “A-Tom-ic Jones” from 1966.

It must have been a pretty good tune. Otis Redding covered it, too.

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Filed under January 2012, Sounds

Back into that groove

Get paid. Go to the record store. Buy two or three records.

That’s how it went, every two weeks from the mid-’70s until sometime in the early to mid-’90s. Now, all these years later, I’m slowly getting back into that groove.

I got paid on Friday, and I’d meant to go to the record store today, but that didn’t happen.

Some of the money set aside for that went for new dress shoes for The Sophomore, whose homecoming dance is tonight. Some of the money set aside for records went to pay for The Sophomore’s dinner date.

And so it goes.

Last month, I stopped at a record store I’ve been digging since the ’70s, the one that benefited from those earliest visits after payday.

Going through the bins at Inner Sleeve Records in Wausau, Wisconsin, I came across the new record by Tom Jones, albeit on CD. Wanting to buy something at the Sleeve — didn’t find anything in the vinyl section — I picked it up.

Two weeks ago, I stopped in at our record store in Green Bay — the Exclusive Company — and was delighted to find its used vinyl section greatly expanded. It already had an extensive new vinyl section. In the latter, I found the new record by Mavis Staples.

And then I found that Tom Jones record on vinyl. It has been bugging me ever since. Given a choice, I want vinyl rather than CD.

Next time I stop in at the Exclusive Company, I’m getting that Tom Jones on vinyl. Here’s why.

Tom Jones, doing “Burning Hell,” a John Lee Hooker cover, on “The Late Show With David Letterman,” Sept. 22, 2010.

It’s a cut from “Praise & Blame,” which came out a couple of months ago. It’s full of gospel-inspired tunes that go back and forth from reverent to rocking.

But that vinyl will have to wait until next payday, two weeks from now.

Unless, of course, The Sophomore needs something more urgently.


Filed under October 2010, Sounds

That ’70s song, Vols. 17 and 18

Do you dig the new photo at the top of the blog? That vibe is right outta 1969. At that time, and 40 years ago this week, Tom Jones gave off that vibe as well.

Tom Jones was just about the hottest thing on radio and television. If you’ve been a regular visitor here, you know I dig Tom Jones. I wrote this almost three years ago:

Tom Jones was one of my role models when I was growing up in the early ’70s. You gotta learn your way with the ladies somehow, and he seemed a pretty good guide to a 13-year-old. … I vividly recall watching “This is Tom Jones” with my grandmother, who thought he was great.

Tom Jones had no shortage of his own hits, given a string of smash singles that started with “It’s Not Unusual” in 1965 and wound down with “She’s A Lady” in 1971.

Indeed, in this week in 1970, Tom Jones had another single heading up the charts: “Daughter of Darkness.”

But he needed more material for his TV and stage shows, so he tirelessly and good-naturedly did cover after cover. Which brings us to a couple of other songs heard on the radio this week 40 years ago.

Right behind “Daughter of Darkness” in the charts was “Puppet Man” by the 5th Dimension … which, like Tom Jones, is another of my guilty pop pleasures. Entering the charts right behind those tunes was “Get Ready,” Rare Earth’s muscular debut single, a cover of the Temptations hit written by Smokey Robinson.

What a time that was.

You know the 5th Dimension and Rare Earth versions of those tunes.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is Tom Jones!

“Get Ready,” Tom Jones, from “The Tom Jones Fever Zone,” 1968. It’s out of print, but if you see this album in the crates, grab it.

“Delilah” is on this album, along with at least a half-dozen outstanding R&B and soul covers. “Get Ready”gets a fast-paced run-through, driven by some big Vegas-style horns. Among the other covers: “It’s a Man’s Man’s World,” “You Keep Me Hanging On,” “Hold On, I’m Coming,” “I Was Made To Love Her,” “Don’t Fight It” and “Keep On Running.”

“Puppet Man,” Tom Jones, from “Tom Jones Sings She’s A Lady,” 1971. This also is out of print.

“Puppet Man” gets second billing on the album cover, and with good reason. Jones delivers a snarling, nasty, grinding cover with plenty of chunky Memphis guitar. This was the follow-up single to “She’s A Lady,” which was Jones’ last Top 10 hit in the United States. However, “Puppet Man” stalled in the middle of the Top 40.

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Filed under May 2010, Sounds

One good turn deserves another

It is getting to the end of the month, and I find myself asking the same question I asked last month: What album side am I going to post over at our other blog, The Midnight Tracker?

And then today, our friend DJ Prestige over at Flea Market Funk serves up a vintage Tom Jones tune that rocks.

Hmmm. Tom Jones. Not a bad idea at all. I already have a Tom Jones side digimatized, as our friend Larry over at Funky 16 Corners says.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we would … like to lighten things up a little bit for you … if possible .. and do a … a rhythm-and-blues number that goes … like this.”

Lighten things up a little bit? Hell, Tom blows ’em out of their seats with an incendiary cover of …

“Soul Man,” Tom Jones, from “Tom Jones Live at Caesars Palace Las Vegas,” 1971.

That’s Bobby Shew on the sizzling trumpet leads, Jim Sullivan on the chugging guitar leads and the Blossoms on the backing vocals.

If you dig it, head over to The Midnight Tracker for the rest of Side 1.

Speaking of soul and Tom Jones, he has a new record coming out — his first in the U.S. in 15 years. “24 Hours” is due out on Nov. 25 on S-Curve Records. It is reported to be full of retro soul.

“The fire is still in me,” he says. We’ve seen him live. We believe it.

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Filed under September 2008, Sounds

The itinerary

Our 13-year-old son is wrapping up a three-week trip to the ancestral lands on Mom’s side of the family — Scotland and Wales.

Evan also has been to Ireland and England, where the small, non-Germanic sliver of my side of the family hails from.

There are lots of swell things to see in the UK, but the itinerary for his tour group didn’t include one stop I’d make if it were my trip.

What? No stroll across Abbey Road?

Nor a visit to Carnaby Street, or even a ferry ride across the Mersey?

I wonder whether he heard this tune on his more conventional trip.

“Skye Boat Song,” Tom Jones, from “It’s Not Unusual,” 1965. The album is out of print, and this cover of the song isn’t available anywhere I could find.

It’s a traditional Scottish folk song, the tale of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s escape to the Isle of Skye after being defeated in battle in 1746.

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing/Onward! the sailors cry/Carry the lad that’s born to be king/Over the sea to Skye.

It’s given a hard-driving R&B treatment by the pride of Wales.

Dig those horns and that Hammond organ, lads and lassies!

(Abbey Road crosswalk photo credit: MadWasabi of Caracas, Venezuela, as found at Worth1000.com)

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Filed under July 2008, Sounds