Tommy James & the Shondells

Crimson and Clover

Composed by Tommy James / Peter Lucia

Song Review by

Having participated in the creative process with producers Bo Gentry and Ritchie Cordell, Tommy James & the Shondells were ready to take the recording studio reigns with no outside help and generate psychedelia beyond the subtleties of "Mirage." Recorded and released in 1968 it was the only one of James' 16 additional chart hits to equal the number one position of his first smash, "Hanky Panky." This magical song was covered by Elijah Blue and his mom, Cher, for a 1999 film, A Walk on the Moon, but it was Joan Jett who brought it Top Ten in 1982 -- her second biggest hit following "I Love Rock & Roll." James contemporary Tommy Roe also cut a version, but perhaps the most surprising "cover" is the underground tune the pop star may have inspired. Dave Thompson's book Beyond the Velvet Underground prints a 1976 quote from Lou Reed that he thinks the 1969 live album was the first time the Velvet Underground performed "Sweet Jane." Could it be that Lou Reed's garage rock classic, which influenced hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of bands, was itself derived from Tommy James & the Shondells? Just listen to the riff. The five-minute-and-26-second-long version, written by drummer Peter Lucia and James, often found itself on hit radio without those "amputations" Reed complained about, another amazing achievement by this clever and timeless nugget from the days of Sgt. Pepper and Satanic Majesties. During Christmastime 1968 when this song was topping the charts, some listeners asked if he was singing "Christmas is over" when the tremolo effect kicks in on the voice towards the end of the tune. The guitars, drums, keys, and voices unite and dazzle over a trancelike tempo, resulting in a song and performance for the ages.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1968 Disky 0:00
Billboard Top Rock & Roll Hits: 1969 1969
Various Artists
Rhino 3:29
The Best of Tommy James & the Shondells [Roulette] 1969 Pair
Classic Rock: 1968 1987
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 5:12
Anthology 1989 Rhino 3:23
Crimson & Clover/Cellophane Symphony 1991 Rhino 5:32
History of Rock: The Rockin' 60's - WCBS FM 101 1991
Various Artists
3:30
At Their Best 1992 Pair
The Very Best of Tommy James & the Shondells 1993 Rhino / WEA Int'l 2:17
Billboard Top Rock 'n' Roll Hits: 1968-1972 1993
Various Artists
Rhino 3:29
Psychedelic Mind Trip 1993
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 5:10
Dick Clark's All-Time Hits, Vol. 4 1994
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:25
The Best of Tommy James & the Shondells [Rhino] 1994 Rhino
'60s Rock Classics, Vol. 2 1995
Various Artists
Rhino
Original Hits 1995 Disky 3:29
'60s Rock Hits [Rhino] 1997
Various Artists
Rhino Flashback 3:30
'60s Rock: The Beat Goes On 1997
Various Artists
Rhino 3:30
Crimson & Clover & Other Hits 1997 Collectables 3:29
Whole Lotta Rock: 1968-1969 1997
Various Artists
BCI-Eclipse Distribution / Eclipse Music Group 3:26
Rock 'N Roll Relix: 1960-1969 1997
Various Artists
Eclipse Music Group 3:26
The Best of Tommy James & the Shondells [K-Tel] 1999 Dominion / K-Tel Distribution 3:25
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Disky
Hits of the 60's, Vol. 5 2000
Various Artists
Legacy 3:26
Story 2000 EMI Music Distribution 3:27
The Woodstock Generation: Wonderful World Beautiful People 2001
Various Artists
Woodstock Records 3:28
Wolfman Jack's: Radio Hits 2001
Various Artists
St. Clair 4:12
Jammin' Oldies: Swingin' 60's 2001
Various Artists
Masters / Intercontinental Records 3:27
American Bandstand 2001
Various Artists
Band Stand 3:30
Dick Clark's #1's: 50's to 70's "When AM Radio Was King" 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 3:25
American Bandstand: CD 3 2001
Various Artists
Disky 3:30
All-Time Greatest Hits 2002 K-Tel Distribution 3:26
The Essentials 2002 Rhino 3:28
Definitive 60's, Vol. 2 2002
Various Artists
B.R. 3:29
Pure 60's: The #1 Hits 2002
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 3:27
Peace Protest: 20 Sixties Classics 2003
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:28
Coffee and Cigarettes 2004
Original Soundtrack
Milan 5:26
Complete Sixties 2005
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:29
The Sixties: Make Love Not War 2006
Various Artists
American Beat Records 3:30
Best of the 60s Rock and Roll [Madacy] 2006
Various Artists
Madacy 3:30
Ultimate 16: Rock N Roll of the 60s 2006
Various Artists
Madacy 3:29
All #1 Hits '60s 2006
Various Artists
Madacy 3:29
The Definitive Pop Collection 2006 Rhino 3:28
The Greatest Groovy 60's Hits of All Time 2006
Various Artists
Rhino 3:24
Anthology [EMI] 2007 EMI Music Distribution 3:29
#1 Classic Hits of the 60s 1965-1970 2007
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:23
Where Were You: 1969 2008
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:28
My Best Friend's Girl 2008
Original Soundtrack
Lionsgate
The Heart of Classic Rock [Box Set]
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:29
Top Hits/60's Only Number 1's
Various Artists
Warner Music 3:30
Top Hits/Ballads & Love Songs 60's & 70's
Various Artists
Warner Bros. / Warner Music 3:25