Reload by Tom Jones (Review)

Most of the album makes you realize how cool Tom Jones is in his later years.
Reload - Tom Jones

Last December, I was fortunate enough to attend a Tom Jones show at the famous Harvey’s Casino (known for its ads with Bill Cosby) in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Granted, it didn’t compare to a Tom Jones show in Las Vegas, but my front row seats surrounded by older women flinging panties was, nonetheless, an extrordinary experience. Sure, I’ll never understand how he was ever seen as a sex symbol, but the man has impeccable taste in music and puts on an impressive show. His exceptional taste in music is once again displayed in his most recent effort, Reload (not to be confused with Metallica’s album of the same name), as he performs hits accompanied by some pretty impressive artists.

The album begins with the perennial favorite “Burning Down the House,” which he performs with the Cardigans. David Byrne’s song is transformed into a dance hit with clubby beats and keyboards lifted straight from a Cardigans album. Nina Persson adds her baby vocals to the mixture and the song becomes Jones’ radio-friendly track. Another popular theme, “Mama Told Me Not to Come,” is a duet with the Stereophonics; at the concert, it was given a roaring applause. Once again, he shares vocals with one of the band members.

There are a few songs he should not have attempted. Lenny Kravitz’ “Are You Gonna Go My Way” is definitely one of those songs. There was nothing added, only taken away by Jones’ poor endeavor. I hope to never hear the tune on the radio, because it sounds like a karaoke production you’d find in a backwoods bar. Also, stay away from “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone.” Elvis did it better.

However, most of the album makes you realize how cool Tom Jones is in his later years. I remember reading a preview on Reload and finding out that he undertakes Portishead’s “All Mine,” and performs with Portishead on another track. Needless to say, I was rather ecstatic due to Portishead’s recent material and surprised that Jones even knew who Portishead was. I was not distraught by either song. “All Mine” is reminiscent of Tom’s Thunderball days and “Motherless Child” has, at the very least, provided me with one more song by my beloved band that seems to rarely release music.

The INXS tune he does with Natalie Imbruglia is also worth noting and sounds strikingly similar to a Portishead song. Of course, the album would not be complete without a song like “Sexbomb” in which Tom turns on the ladies and sets the place afire. The rest of the album is vintage Jones; he’s just accompanied by other artists.

At present, Reload is not available in the United States. One of Tom’s roadies informed me of this, afraid of being arrested if he sold me a copy. My friend’s Swedish copy was attained from Gut Records at www.gutrecords.com.

Written by Nolan Shigley.

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