Aside from her 2006 album, Law of Old, this 21-track compilation contains virtually everything Thelma Jones recorded as a solo artist, including 1967-1968 singles for the Barry label; all the tracks from her 1978 Columbia LP; and a couple non-LP Columbia cuts from the same era. Jones is most known for issuing the original version of "The House That Jack Built" (included here), covered for a hit by Aretha Franklin, who frankly gave it a superior, more memorable interpretation. While this anthology shows Jones to be a solid soul vocalist, that's bound to remain the footnote for which she's known. The late-'60s Barry sides are sturdy soul with stirring vocals and a dash of orchestrated pop, but more respectable than outstanding. The final dozen tracks are all from the Columbia era, and such is their difference from the Barry material that they could almost be the work of a different artist. That's understandable, as about a decade had passed in the meantime and trends in soul music had been totally overhauled. It still makes for an incongruous juxtaposition, the production getting slicker in accordance with the musical changes of the era, Jones' vocals and the material again being more competent than noteworthy. For those who want all of Jones' 1960s and 1970s recordings in one place, however, this is almost one-stop shopping -- "almost" because one of her Barry singles, "Souvenirs of a Heartbreak" and "I Won't Give Up My Man," is represented by alternate takes of the songs.
Second Chance Review
by Richie Unterberger