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Friday, 3 December, 1999, 18:39 GMT
Tom singles out Cerys
Tom and Cerys You're my hero: Tom Jones with Catatonia's Cerys Matthews

By BBC News Online's Ryan Dilley

The transformation of Tom Jones from leather-trousered housewives' favourite to cult icon receives another boost with the release of a new single with Catatonia star Cerys Matthews.

The track, Baby It's Cold Outside, comes from Tom's album of duets, Reload, for which the veteran star teamed up with musicians ranging from Van Morrison to Robbie Williams.

"There's no limit to the people I can sing with. Because of my versatility and love of all different kinds of popular music," said the 59-year-old singer.

Tom Jones Versatile Tom says he can sing in any style
"There are all kinds of bands and all kinds of songs that we've done on [Reload] and I think I could do more.

"It could be a heavy metal song, it could be a country song, it could be a straight rock 'n' roll song. I'd like to do a variety of stuff."

Jones admits the album, which has catapulted him back to the top of the UK chart, would not have been possible when he first shot to fame in the 1960s.

"In those days there was very little collaboration going on - unless you did a duet with someone actually on the same record label as you, which was a shame."

These restrictions may have robbed music fans of one of the greatest duets of all time.

"I sang with Elvis privately in a suite in Vegas and Hawaii and different parts of the world where we happened to be at the same time.

"We would jam together, but Colonel Parker [Elvis's manager] didn't want it recorded.

Elvis Presley Tom jammed with Elvis, but never cut a record with the King
"Elvis Presley never recorded with anybody because Parker felt that was the way Elvis would be individual, be himself."

"I'd have liked to hear Elvis do something with Jerry Lee Lewis."

During his 35-year career, Jones thinks the music industry has changed.

"Today it's a lot easier - singers are allowed more, they've got more freedom now to record on other labels for one song."

Jones has taken full advantage of this flexibility for the Reload album, matching his formidable voice with those of today's hottest stars.

The record has also been an opportunity for top Welsh musicians such as Cerys Matthews, the Stereophonics, the Manic Street Preacher's James Dean Bradfield to pay tribute to the godfather of "Cool Cymru".

"The bands have told me that I gave them confidence and hope that it can be done, that you can come from a working class and become successful.

Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews Tom is the godfather of Welsh rock
"There's more talent coming out of South Wales now than when I came out of there. Shirley Bassey was the only one recording before me in the 60s."

Jones is careful to point out that Cerys Matthews made it onto the record for reasons other than her Welshness.

"She sings the same kind of way as I do. Her attitude is very similar to mine. She has a big voice."

Although his knicker-throwing fans remain as fanatically loyal as ever, his work with the likes of Matthews has won him a new street cred.

"Kids on the street give me the thumbs-up. It's very flattering and very gratifying."

Baby It's Cold Outside is released by Gut Records on 6 December
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See also:
27 Sep 99 |  New Music Releases
CD Review: Tom Jones
09 Mar 99 |  Entertainment
On Her Majesty's Service

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