B.J. Thomas

On My Way

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On My Way is an appropriate title for B.J. Thomas’ third album, as this is the record that put the Texas singer on a path toward the top of the charts thanks to the hit “Hooked on a Feeling.” Buzzing with sitars and draped in strings, this single is a quintessential piece of late-‘60s pop and it illustrates how far Thomas had moved from the rootless roots music of his first two Sceptre albums. Surely, there are traces of that country-soul singer, particularly on the slow ballad “Four Walls,” but a better indication of where B.J.’s head is at is in his loungey replica of Jose Feliciano’s reworking of “Light My Fire,” and a super-smooth reading of “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” These two cuts are unapologetically adult contemporary, suggesting the direction he would later take in his career, but on the whole, On My Way doesn’t find Thomas idling in the middle of the road, preferring the paisley-colored pop of “Hooked on a Feeling” for the bulk of the record. “The Eyes of a New York Woman” is cut from the same cloth as “Hooked” -- appropriately enough, it’s written by the same songwriter, Mark James -- as is the beguilingly awkward stab at social relevancy “Mr. Businessman,” but this spangly production is also applied to the fuzz-guitar-and-organ ballad “Gone,” the syrupy strings of “Sandman,” and the tempered country-soul of “I Saw Pity in the Face of a Friend.” These are stronger songs than Thomas received on his first two records, and the production is richer, more colorful, and it all results in his most satisfying LP to date.

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