Tommy James & the Shondells

Crimson and Clover

Composed by Peter Lucia / Tommy James

Song Review by

Having participated in the creative process with producers Bo Gentry and Ritchie Cordell, Tommy James & the Shondells were ready to take the recording studio reigns with no outside help and generate psychedelia beyond the subtleties of "Mirage." Recorded and released in 1968 it was the only one of James' 16 additional chart hits to equal the number one position of his first smash, "Hanky Panky." This magical song was covered by Elijah Blue and his mom, Cher, for a 1999 film, A Walk on the Moon, but it was Joan Jett who brought it Top Ten in 1982 -- her second biggest hit following "I Love Rock & Roll." James contemporary Tommy Roe also cut a version, but perhaps the most surprising "cover" is the underground tune the pop star may have inspired. Dave Thompson's book Beyond the Velvet Underground prints a 1976 quote from Lou Reed that he thinks the 1969 live album was the first time the Velvet Underground performed "Sweet Jane." Could it be that Lou Reed's garage rock classic, which influenced hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of bands, was itself derived from Tommy James & the Shondells? Just listen to the riff. The five-minute-and-26-second-long version, written by drummer Peter Lucia and James, often found itself on hit radio without those "amputations" Reed complained about, another amazing achievement by this clever and timeless nugget from the days of Sgt. Pepper and Satanic Majesties. During Christmastime 1968 when this song was topping the charts, some listeners asked if he was singing "Christmas is over" when the tremolo effect kicks in on the voice towards the end of the tune. The guitars, drums, keys, and voices unite and dazzle over a trancelike tempo, resulting in a song and performance for the ages.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Best of Tommy James & the Shondells [Roulette] 1969 Pair
Classic Rock: 1968 1987
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 5:12
Anthology 1989 Rhino 3:29
Crimson & Clover/Cellophane Symphony 1991 Rhino 5:33
History of Rock: The Rockin' 60's - WCBS FM 101 1991
Various Artists
Collectables 3:30
At Their Best 1992 Pair
The Very Best of Tommy James & the Shondells 1993 Rhino / WEA Int'l 2:17
Psychedelic Mind Trip 1993
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 5:10
Dick Clark's All-Time Hits, Vol. 4 1994
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:25
The Best of Tommy James & the Shondells [Rhino] 1994 Rhino
Original Hits 1995 Disky 3:29
Crimson & Clover & Other Hits 1997 Flashback Records / Rhino Flashback 3:29
Superstars Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 1997
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:25
Whole Lotta Rock: 1968-1969 1997
Various Artists
Eclipse Records 3:26
Rock 'N Roll Relix: 1960-1969 1997
Various Artists
Eclipse Music Group 3:26
Greatest Hits Live [K-Tel] 1998 K-Tel Distribution 5:00
The Best of Tommy James & the Shondells [K-Tel] 1999 Dominion / K-Tel Distribution 3:25
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Hits of the 60's, Vol. 5 2000
Various Artists
Legacy 3:26
Live at the Bitter End 2000 BMG Special Products 3:26
Live at the Bitter End 2000 Aura / St. Clair Vision
Story 2000 EMI Music Distribution 3:27
60's Party Pack 2001
Various Artists
Legacy 3:24
The Woodstock Generation: Wonderful World Beautiful People 2001
Various Artists
Woodstock Records 3:28
Wolfman Jack's: Radio Hits 2001
Various Artists
St. Clair 4:12
Jammin' Oldies: Swingin' 60's 2001
Various Artists
Masters / Intercontinental Records 3:27
American Bandstand 2001
Various Artists
Band Stand 3:30
Dick Clark's #1's: 50's to 70's "When AM Radio Was King" 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 3:25
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Realm Records 3:25
All-Time Greatest Hits 2002 K-Tel Distribution 3:26
The Essentials 2002 Rhino 3:28
It's a New Vibration: An Ultimate Anthology 2002 Westside Records 3:29
All Time Greatest Hits: Live at the Bitter End 2002 Varèse Sarabande / Varese 5:05
Pure 60's: The #1 Hits 2002
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 3:27
Live! At the Bitter End New York 2002 Angel Air Records 5:04
Peace Protest: 20 Sixties Classics 2003
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:28
Coffee and Cigarettes 2004
Original Soundtrack
Milan 5:26
American Rock Classics [Disky] 2005
Various Artists
Disky 3:27
Flower Power [Disky] 2005
Various Artists
Disky Communications
Complete Sixties 2005
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:29
Radio Vietnam: Music of a Generation 2005
Various Artists
Disky Classics 5:26
The Sixties: Make Love Not War 2006
Various Artists
American Beat Records 3:30
Best of the 60s Rock and Roll [Madacy] 2006
Various Artists
Madacy 3:30
Ultimate 16: Rock N Roll of the 60s 2006
Various Artists
Madacy 3:29
All #1 Hits '60s 2006
Various Artists
Madacy 3:29
The Definitive Pop Collection 2006 Rhino 3:28
The Greatest Groovy 60's Hits of All Time 2006
Various Artists
Rhino 3:24
Anthology [EMI] 2007 EMI Music Distribution 3:29
You'll Never Walk Alone [Falcon] 2007
Various Artists
Falcon 3:28
Super Hits Live 2007 Sbme Special Mkts. 5:05
#1 Classic Hits of the 60s 1965-1970 2007
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:23
Flower Power [Time Life Box] 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:29
Karaoke: The Sixties Hits, Vol. 4 2007
Chartbuster Karaoke 3:53
Greatest Hits 2007 Remember Records 3:29
Flower Power: Groovin' [Time Life #1] 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:29
Where Were You: 1969 2008
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:28
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Euro Trend / MCP 3:28
Remember the 60s [Immortal] 2008
Various Artists
My Best Friend's Girl 2008
Original Soundtrack
Lionsgate 3:28
40 Years: The Complete Singles Collection (1966-2006) 2008 Collectors' Choice Music 3:22
The Boat That Rocked [Movie Soundtrack] 2009
Original Soundtrack
Mercury 5:24
Good Morning England 2009
Original Soundtrack
Mercury 5:24
Crystal Blues Symphonies: The Psychedelic Years 2009 Rev-Ola Records 5:31
Cousin Brucie's Sixties Favorites, Vol. 1 2009
Various Artists
Collectables 3:32
The  Best of Tommy James & the Shondells [Relayer] 2013 Relayer Records
No Image Timeless 3:32
50 Shades of Music For Her
Various Artists
Golden Stars / Goldies 3:27
Incredible Collections
Various Artists
Roller Rink Rewind
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution / Universal Music / Warner Music 3:26
Top Hits/60's Only Number 1's
Various Artists
Warner Music 3:30
Top Hits/Ballads & Love Songs 60's & 70's
Various Artists
Warner Bros. / Warner Music 3:30
blue highlight denotes editor's pick