Tommy James & the Shondells

The Definitive Pop Collection

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This 30-song, double-CD set is the 21st century successor to Rhino's 1990-vintage single-disc Tommy James & the Shondells Anthology. The same 27 songs by the group are here in state-of-the-art remastering (not that the older disc was bad, by any means), a few switched in order, and they're augmented by a trio of Tommy James solo sides, "Draggin' the Line," "Nothing to Hide," and "Tighter, Tighter," and new notes by Bill Holdship. From "Hanky Panky" (which hit nationally in 1966) to 1970s "Come to Me," it's all great fun, though with few surprises for longtime fans. For the uninitiated who only know this outfit for a few songs, however, there may be a minor revelation or two in the range of material that this group seemed to toss off so cavalierly into the AM radio ether -- from crunchy rock & roll and sugary pop/rock to shimmering psychedelia and sunshine pop, they did it all well, and in about as listener-friendly a fashion as anyone this side of the Beatles. Indeed, this set is another reminder that, like their AM radio rivals Paul Revere & the Raiders, Tommy James and company were underestimated even by a lot of their fans, and certainly by most critics.

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