Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Pop, Rock
Digitally remastered edition of the singer/songwriter's first post-Shondells solo album, originally released in 1970. From the childlike Psychedelia of the cover, with it's upward dripping colors, to the tough sound of the... more »
Digitally remastered edition of the singer/songwriter's first post-Shondells solo album, originally released in 1970. From the childlike Psychedelia of the cover, with it's upward dripping colors, to the tough sound of the tracks, this is a new departure for Tommy James. The album was cut at music business hub 1650 Broadway, backed partly by the Shondells and partly by Neon, a group Tommy was producing for Paramount Records, who were to become his new studio and touring band. Their hard, gutsy style was perfect for Tommy's new musical persona which now relied more heavily on rhythm and a grittier guitar sound. The result was a masterpiece of underground New York Pop, in the same ballpark as The Velvet Underground's Loaded. 10 tracks including the hit single 'Draggin' The Line'. Rev-Ola. 2009.
Excellent reissue of overlooked LP with collectors' bonus
Archiver | The Heartland | 11/25/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This LP, Tommy James' first solo effort, has been reissued before as part of a two-fer on James' own Aura imprint, but Rev-Ola does a fine job with this new UK release. It's a short album (about 27 minutes), so Rev-Ola adds both sides of James' subsequent single, in mono, as bonus tracks.
That single was James' version of "Church Street Soul Revival," which he and Ritchie Cordell had written and previously produced for the Exiles, backed with the original version of "Draggin' the Line," sans horns. The credits here state that both tracks "were originally released as non-LP single Roulette 7103 in 1970." Not exactly. It was Roulette 7093. After the release of "Adrienne," "Draggin' the Line" was revamped with horns added and issued as the A-side of Roulette 7103, backed with "Bits and Pieces." While both songs issued on Roulette 7093 were indeed non-LP at the time, both were included on James' subsequent LP, "Christian of the World," but there, "Draggin' the Line" has the added horns. This CD marks the first time the original version, without horns, has been reissued since it appeared on the B-side of Roulette 7093. So, collectors will appreciate its inclusion, but others will likely be misled by Rev-Ola's write-up for the CD stating that it includes the "hit single," which has the horns, while this version does not. But don't let that deter you. This is a great LP which won't disappoint even a casual fan.
The LP leads off with James' first solo single, "Ball and Chain," a superb slice of psych-pop that should have been a much bigger hit than it was. Backed by Neon, a band which James and co-writer/bass player Bob King were producing for Paramount, James delivers an intense performance sparked by outstanding lead guitar and tremelo rhythm guitar effects similar to his later recordings with the Shondells. (Collectors will also want the stereo promo 45, which features reverb effects unique to that mix.) It sounds every bit as good as it did when it was first issued in 1970.
"Ball and Chain" also reflects James' new-found spirtuality and is autobiographical, as after he and the Shondells decided to take a break from their constant recording and touring, James actually did retire to a farm in the valley to get himself back together again. He became a Christian, and the subsequent track, "Meet the Comer," also reflects his faith, in a reflective, sensitive way, but with pure pop sensibility. "Midnight Train" again features Neon in high gear and another outstanding vocal by James, followed by the more introspective mood piece, "Light of Day," which was given a second shot at exposure when it was also included on his subsequent LP.
"Come to Me," James' last single with the Shondells and another hit which should have been top ten, remains a pop masterpiece. The James-King production and James' soaring vocals are simply superb. This is the original LP mix, not the longer mix included on the "Solo Years" CD. The Shondells also back James on "Lady Jane" (not the Rolling Stones' song, but like all the tracks on this CD, a James-King original), another great pop song which could well have been issued as a single. "I Lost My Baby" is good pop, while "Quicksilver" is basically a rewrite of the superior TJ and the Shondells track "Gotta Get Back to You," though the energy of James and Neon carries the song well.
The liner notes, including recent comments by James, are quite informative and the sound quality, all stereo except the two bonus tracks, is excellent. Fans who are not as familiar with James' solo work will be pleasantly surprised by this excellent reissue.