Arguably the most musical album by Tommy James, a stellar cast of musicians who performed with Elvis Presley, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, and other giants back up Tommy James around the time of his solo hit "Draggin' the Line. Along with co-producer and co-songwriter Bob King, his partner with the successful "Tighter, Tighter" a year earlier for Alive 'N Kickin', James puts together 13 sides that range from the psychedelic pop he is known for to straight-out country. Reinventing John Fogerty's "Born on the Bayou" riff which also served as Lou Reed's foundation for his classic "Sister Ray, the timeless changes emerge as "Dark Is the Night" here. When Buddy Spicher's fiddle comes in, it is far removed from the Everly Brothers' "Love Hurts," where all these gents "borrowed" the chord progression. Perhaps this novel and monumental album would have fared better on Fantasy Records, where TJ would find himself just five years later. It's as fascinating hearing Pete Drake, Linda Hargrove, Pig Robbins, and other legends doing "Kingston Highway," which could be a sequel to Tommy James & the Shondells brilliant "Ball of Fire" as it is to hear James performing in their territory on "Walk a Country Mile," "Fortunada," and "I Used to Love a Woman. James even covers Linda Hargrove's "Rosalee," the genres go back and forth, but there's no denying it flows seamlessly. "Who's Gonna Cry" is pure Shondells, with the singer throwing in little touches of B.J. Thomas via Hank Williams, the backing vocals' total pop and the country twang sneaking in to create an interesting hybrid of successful sounds. "Who's Gonna Cry" is more commercial than "Draggin' the Line," but this package might have been too much for radio programmers, along with the unfair typecasting this artist faced at this point in time. Many fans of Tommy James' Top 40 hits passed this one by in the cut-out bins, never realizing what genius is poured all over these tracks. Joey Dee and Ritchie Cordell co-wrote "Paper Flowers" with Tommy James, and again, it is the sound we grew up with on the radio, effects from the Crimson & Clover album add some spice to the pedal steel. The album is impeccably engineered by Elvis Presley guitarist Scotty Moore who doesn't pick up his axe for this outing -- but boy does everything sound so fine. There are heavy gospel influences throughout, starting with the first track, "Nothing to Hide," and continuing throughout the disc. Now this would have been an adventurous hit record -- that authentic Presley sound merging with the Shondells and a chorus that comes in from heaven itself. As "Hanky Panky" hit years after it was recorded by the teenager who became a pop star, wouldn't it be amazing for people who care about great music to rediscover this important work? Someone ought to put "Nothing to Hide" in a major motion picture and bring this album to life. Bob King and James do a credible job of writing country with their "Tell 'Em Willie Boys a 'Comin'," two-minutes-and-forty-seven seconds of Tommy James having fun in the recording studio, fun that you can feel, making this album a real find.
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AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione