Album Reviews

Tom Jones – Greatest Hits

UK release date: 17 February 2003

Tom Jones - Greatest Hits Tom Jones‘ Greatest Hits package thankfully ignores the Welsh crooner’s recent, rather dubious rap collaboration with Wyclef Jean. If you’ve ever heard this song, you will instantly know why it was rejected. In recent years Tom Jones has gone through a bit of a resurrection in both career and image – after all everybody knows if you do anything for long enough, you will end up being commended and respected for it, and you even become a bit of a bizarre cool icon. This has happened to Tom, mostly because of the (commercially) ingenious collaborations he did with whichever artist was big at the time.

However, most of the first half of this album concentrates on the period when the kids did not find Tom cool. In fact, nor your mum and dad. Bizarrely, it always seemed to be your strange uncle and aunt who liked him.

But this album does start with the timeless classic – It’s Not Unusual. And it would be hard to find anyone who didn’t like this song, for at some stage everyone – and I do mean everyone – has sang and danced in front of the mirror while listening to it. Quite a wonderful song, it launched Jones’s career just as he was considering giving up.

Moving on, What’s New Pussycat and Delilah represent the totally embarrassing side of Mr Jones. This is cheese. Embarrassing and irritating, it should never have seen the light of day – at least not outside a holiday camp cabaret act. Your uncle probably loves them.

But the standard rises with I’ll Never Fall In Love Again, She’s A Lady and Without Love – above average, reasonably likeable tunes.

The final six tracks are his recent collaborations with more contemporary artists, culled from the Reload album. These songs sound average on the radio – but they sound quite dreadful on CD. With the exception of the rather wonderful cover of Burning Down The House with The Cardigans, the rest of the covers – and in particular his Art Of Noise project, Kiss, are bland, irritating and just plain shameful.

It appears Mr Jones is trying to do too many things at once – the ‘old-fogey-who-is-kind-of-cool’ image that he achieved in the past few years is starting to wear thin now. But he has a huge and loyal international fan base that prefers the older style, and perhaps now is the time to go back.

The first half of this collection represents a decent performer – the rest of the album is basically trash. Jones has always come across as an exceptional cabaret performer rather than an idol to be cherished. So go on – throw your knickers and scream at him with delight. Just don’t ask him to be cool.

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More on Tom Jones
Tom Jones: “I make the songs my own, and it’s as if I wrote them” – Interview
Tom Jones – Surrounded By Time
Tom Jones – Spirit In The Room
Tom Jones: “The voice is still the first thing that hits me” – Interview
Tom Jones: “The only thing I didn’t like about my working class background was that I had to work!” – Interview