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EDITIONS
Monday, 4 November, 2002, 11:46 GMT
Mr Jones misses the target
Tom Jones
Jones' album features several cover versions

Tom Jones is the pop star with the back-to-front career.

His first hit - It's Not Unusual, a big-band belter - climbed the charts to number one, swerving past the newly-fashionable guitar groups of the 60s as it went.

There then followed ballads such as Green, Green Grass of Home and Delilah, which were so uncool at the time that even Des O'Connor would probably have avoided them. But they sold in shedloads.

Then, guided by his son who manages him now, Tom turned hip.

Whilst contemporaries like Englebert Humperdink sought fortune if not fame in cabaret, Tom Jones winkled out the best young pop producers of the day and continued rocking.

New and old

His two new 90s albums, The Lead and How To Swing It and Reload , which included collaborations with a host of the biggest pop stars of the day, were the result.

They introduced the boy Jones to a new audience young enough to be his grandchildren whilst, judging by sales, keeping his fans of four decades happy.

Now comes an album called simply Mr Jones, a mixture of new songs and covers produced by two of the biggest stars of hip-hop, Wyclef Jean and Jerry "Wonder" Duplessis - the former the founder of the Fugees, the latter, his cousin, who produced them.

It's all a bit strange really.
Wyclef Jean
Wyclef Jean has worked with Jones on the album

Described as "a delicious serving of rhythm & blues with a hip hop twist", it is much more the type of R&B fashionable when Jones first started exercising his larynx in the Welsh valleys rather than the R&B of the 21st Century, where the term means something quite different.

And there is not much hip-hop, despite the input of Messrs Jean and Duplessis.

Naff

The first two tracks - the single Tom Jones International and Younger Days - have lots of historical references to Sex Bomb, his huge hit from Reload, and the adulation of young fans when he was enjoying his own younger days.

To be honest, it's all a little bit on the naff side.
Tom Jones and Stereophonics
He recently performed with Stereophonics

But then, pop music is not supposed to be taken seriously and this is imaginatively produced and Tom Jones is in fine fettle.

The cover versions are the strongest, with Black Betty the best. The one exception is a poor attempt to give I Who Have Nothing a 2002-type makeover.

Tom Jones, despite his age, still has the kind of massive female following to make any pop star a third of his age jealous.

But he may have missed that new young audience with this one.

It's okay to work with the hottest producers around, but the material - especially the new songs co-written by the Welsh warbler himself - are just not strong enough to bridge the generation gap.

See also:

04 Nov 02 | Entertainment
04 Nov 02 | Entertainment
23 Oct 02 | Wales
23 Oct 02 | Breakfast
30 Jun 02 | Wales
22 Oct 02 | Wales
29 May 01 | Entertainment
15 May 01 | Entertainment
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