I recently read Tom Jones' autobiography, Over The Top And Back. It is an exceptional read, a real page-turner. If you’re remotely interested in the Welshman with soulful tones, then I implore you to pick up a copy.
I tend to listen to corresponding albums when reading musical autobiographies. I feel it brings me closer to the artist and allows me to fully appreciate just how talented they are. While I have always been aware of Tom Jones, it was only as the caricature that the media would often portray him as being. You know, the Vegas resident singer who is known for the plethora of panties thrown in his direction. Sometimes it can be difficult to remove one's longstanding viewpoint, but in reading his life story, and listening to his albums, I have a newfound appreciation for his recordings and artistry. It is with this in mind that I decided to add some of his albums to my collection. Unfortunately, many are out-of-print, but his later works are easily accessible. There are, of course, countless compilations.
As I went searching for records, I noticed that Praise And Blame was still available for order on vinyl. Increasingly, I find myself using Subjective Sounds as a form of purchase justification. Yes, consumerism is alive and well. The truth is, if I didn't do it this way, I would procrastinate with my own thoughts for days. Anyway, let's take a listen and see if Praise And Blame is worthy of being added to my vinyl collection.
What Good Am I? is Johnny Cash merged with Tom Jones. It is exceptionally moody and the monotone beat perfectly complements Jones' vocal style and the musicality of the song. I dare say, this is one song that would reproduce beautifully on vinyl.
Lord Help shifts the album to a different beat. It is addictive and you will be toe tapping and head bopping from the first note. Despite it being rather different to What Good Am I? the flow and tracking does not feel disjointed. While I feel Jones' vocals are a little hidden in the soundstage, it is an excellent song that showcases his incredible range.
Did Trouble Me slows things down again but, as aforementioned, it doesn't seem out of place or disjointed. I'd go as far as saying this album is a perfect example of how to track an album properly. Jones' vocals are more forward in the soundstage of this song and I simply love it, along with the plucking of that banjo.
Strange Things is a fun song, but I feel Jones over performs on this track. Also, I don’t feel the backing vocals are well suited to the song as they simply feel out of place with the overall style of the album.
Burning Hell is blues-based rock and roll heaven. Burning Hell has to be one of Jones' greatest recordings. I love it!
If I Give My Soul is gorgeous!
Don't Knock is a solid B-side, but I don't feel it blends well with the other songs on the album. Again, I feel the backing vocals simply don’t work. Jones can demand an audience’s attention on his own, hence backing vocalists are largely superfluous unless they add substantially to the song.
Nobody's Fault But Mine is incredible! The mix, the mastering, and most importantly the musicality is off the charts with this song.
Didn't It Rain is another fantastic toe tapping, head bopping song. While Didn't It Rain does have backing vocals, they are in a lower register that works better with the album style and Jones' own deep vocal presentation.
Ain't No Grave is an exceptional B-side.
Run On is a fantastic song to close the album with. It encourages me to not only listen again but stay within the incredible catalogue of music that Tom Jones has given us over the years.
I have to give praise to all the musicians and personnel who made this album possible. It is nothing short of astonishing. I also need to blame those same individuals for giving me no other option than to purchase this incredible recording on vinyl.
Praise And Blame is one of the best albums Tom Jones has ever made, although the follow-up, Spirit In The Room, is hard to beat.
For this review, I listened to the TIDAL Hi-Fi edition and sonically it was perfection in every aspect of the word. If I were unable to purchase vinyl release, I would not feel remorse as it is that good.