Tom Jones

...Sings the Ballads

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Tom Jones has never been known for his subtlety, which doesn't necessarily make him a prime candidate for a romantic ballad crooner. Nevertheless, like any showman, Jones gives the audience what they want, whether it's rock, country, blues, or ballads. In concert, this is certainly quite entertaining, but on record, it can be overbearing, as Music Club's Tom ... Sings the Ballads illustrates. The collection contains 15 tracks Jones recorded in the early '70s, just after he stopped having big hits. The selection is divided between Vegas standards ("My Way," "The Impossible Dream," "Georgia on My Mind," "Brother Can You Spare a Dime," "Anniversary Song") and recent hits ("Tired of Being Alone," "Ebb Tide," "If," "If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don't Want to Be Right)," "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," "You've Got a Friend"). Jones sounds best on the Vegas numbers (not surprising for one of the quintessential Vegas showmen), and the other tunes veer toward kitsch, which may be of interest to some latter-day fans. Throughout both styles of songs, one thing remains the same -- Jones' big brash voice. It's the kind of voice that was meant for the stage, and that's where it sounds best. On record, Jones tends to dominate his material, which is fine for up-tempo numbers, but it's a bit too much for slower songs. Nevertheless, some listeners find a certain gonzo charm to Jones' style, since it's all about him, not the song. And while this collection doesn't have any hits, it does capture what he is all about -- glitzy, showbiz bombast. It's not top-shelf Jones, but it's a good collection of second-level Jones that delivers exactly what his fans expect.

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