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Sunday, September 26, 1999 Published at 01:13 GMT 02:13 UK


CD Review: Tom Jones

Tom Jones - Reload (Gut)

By the BBC's Nigel Packer

Finding a few friends to sing with is not a problem if you happen to own the mightiest lungs in showbusiness.

For this astutely-picked collection of covers the legendary crooner has called on a roster of top names, from Simply Red's Mick Hucknall to the ever-present Robbie Williams.

And to reaffirm his status as godfather of Welsh pop music there are intriguing contributions from younger compatriots - Cerys Matthews of Catatonia, James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers and the Stereophonics.

[ image: Cerys Matthews - leading light of the Welsh musical mafia]
Cerys Matthews - leading light of the Welsh musical mafia
Tom may have been dodging flying knickers for four decades now, but you would never know it listening to the voice - a torrent of pure sound which has lost none of its power and fluidity with the passing years.

Yet if Reload generally manages to bridge the generation gap and reinvent Jones as a cutting edge pop icon, there remains the occasional garish flicker in the voice to remind us of the other Tom Jones - equally at home in the casinos of Las Vegas.

Of all the collaborations, it's his work with the new generation of stars which has created most interest.

Following the barnstorming duet with Robbie Williams at this year's Brits, the pair renew their acquaintance with a blistering version of Lenny Kravitz's Are You Gonna Go My Way.

[ image: What's new pusscat? Tom's still got it 35 years on]
What's new pusscat? Tom's still got it 35 years on
And bringing in the Stereophonics for the bluesy Mama Told Me Not To Say proves an inspired touch, with singer Kelly Jones (no relation) sounding uncannily like a younger incarnation of Jones senior.

Elsewhere Tom gets to flirt outrageously with Cerys on Baby It's Cold Outside, retire to the lounge with the Divine Comedy for a version of Portishead's All Mine, and perform with the cream of Bristol themselves on epic closing track Motherless Child.

With the exception of a toe-curlingly bad version of Lust For Life with The Pretenders, the songs with older musicians leave an equally strong impression.

Best of all is Sometimes We Cry with Van Morrison, whose rough-hewn tones make an ideal counterpoint to Jones' ringing delivery. Not the most original collaboration here, it nonetheless stands out a mile.

Maybe it's just that it takes decades of singing experience to keep up with this particular Jones.

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