Tom Jones

Loaded: The Brassed up Funked out Club Sides

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The concept behind this compilation of 1970-1974 sides is a reasonable one, cut through the variable, large body of work Jones made during those years, some of it quite middle-of-the-road, and zeroing in on the hardest-rocking, most soulful songs. That might sound more appealing on paper than it does on the stereo, as much of this is given over to sweaty, overwrought covers of popular pop/rock hits of the era: "Venus," "Lodi," "Witch Queen of New Orleans," "Proud Mary," "I Can't Turn You Loose," "Soul Man," and "Resurrection Shuffle." There are a couple of big hits here in "She's a Lady" and the less-monstrous smash "Puppet Man." But for the most part, these are cuts you're only going to have if you're a pretty dedicated Jones collector. In that respect, this serves fans who want his gruffer, tougher side well. Yet at the same time, the showbizzy, blustery soul-pop steamrolls along at such a regularly high-intensity macho pitch that it can be tiresome for non-devotees. In these surroundings "(I Ain't No) One Night Only Love Maker" is a standout, both due to the relative unfamiliarity of the song and its slower pace. And really, it's not like Jones is such a great interpretive artist that these covers stand out as significant art. The liner notes are much more informed and passionate than they usually are for anthologies of MOR entertainers like Jones.

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