While Delilah, What's New Pussycat, and It's Not Unusual are permanently etched into my mind, due to their addictive musicality and Jones' textual, but smooth tones, I am constantly amazed by the sheer catalogue of music Tom Jones has recorded over the years.
Help Yourself is, in my opinion, the first album Jones released that truly showed off his musical chops. The recording also has a high-quality production and mastering that still holds up today. Any attempts at remastering this album, beyond the digitisation done by Decca in 1989, would arguably be a mistake as it has an analog tone that is reminiscent of the sound and recording techniques from the era. This is obviously a case of if it ain't broke, don't fix it!
I generally find these classic album covers, highlighting the artist along with a list of songs, to be compelling. Yes, it is a dying art to include this information, but it is so much better than slapping a sticker onto the vinyl outer sleeve, or CD case. Regardless, the streaming versions of Help Yourself omit song titles, but I have noted the original vinyl editions did include this information. I don’t know about you, but I believe that album artwork should be presented in the same manner as the original release. Unless, of course, it is a Deluxe Edition or other variant. Okay, so I guess streaming is a variant and my argument isn’t as sound as I would like it to be, but I trust you understand my inference.
Help Yourself has a beautiful brass introduction that instantly transports my mind to the era. It is upbeat and the accompanying Caribbean presentation is perfectly matched to Jones' baritone vocal in both pitch and octave variation.
I Can't Break The News To Myself is a fun song with an addictive groove. What I love most about this track is the vocal clarity as I find it increasingly difficult to decipher lyrics in modern pop and rock music. When vocals are clear I tend to listen for meaning, when they are over processed or not well defined, I treat the vocal as nothing more than another instrument in the composition. Yes, I could look up the lyrics, but that is not how I enjoy listening to music.
The Bed has a fantastic blues-inspired guitar introduction that immediately reminds me of John Fogerty's musical style. Overall, The Bed is a fantastic song that once again shows why Tom Jones is a superb vocalist.
Isadora is simply gorgeous. A perfect composition. I love it!
Set Me Free is an absolute classic that stands the test of time. It’s a song that is genre blended and anyone with a passing interest in Country, Blues, or Rock music would really enjoy Set Me Free.
I Get Carried Away has a very similar style to another song from the same era, yet I am drawing a complete blank on the name of the song. You will notice the similarity mostly in the introduction and chorus. If anyone can suggest the other song I may be thinking of, I would appreciate you letting me know. Despite the similarity, I thoroughly enjoy I Get Carried Away and find that it is a song I never tire of.
This House (The House Song) is a lovely song and the vocal delivery is buttery smooth.
So Afraid is an exceptional song!
If I Promise has a hip-gyrating pace that would have been incredible to see live. It is a fun song and I love the brass band sound.
If You Go Away is a gloomy song, but is perfect when considering lyrical context. I thoroughly enjoy this song!
My Girl Maria is another song that would have been incredible when performed live. That said, I feel this recording lacks emotion that arguably would have been more present in a live performance. Nevertheless, it is a lovely song.
All I Can Say Is Goodbye is a solid easy listening tune, but it is nothing to write home about.
Ten Guitars is unfortunately greyed out on TIDAL Hi-Fi; generally, this indicates there is a licensing issue that is yet to be resolved. However, you can cheat and listen to the song on The Legendary Tom Jones - 30th Anniversary Album. Interestingly, if you use Spotify, they automatically switch to the other album for the song that is greyed out. I wish TIDAL would offer that feature, although one must wonder if it is the best approach from the standpoint of contractual obligations. Regardless, Ten Guitars is a twang fest that I have mixed feelings about. It isn’t one of the strongest recordings, definitely a B-side, but it is strangely addictive.
What A Party has a New Orleans sound that many will like. As for me, I find this effort to be merely adequate.
Looking Out My Window is an incredible track. It has energy, rhythm, and is well suited to Jones' vocal style.
Can't Stop Loving You is beautiful.
Let There Be Love is so well suited to Jones; the musicality is spot on. Classic Tom Jones recordings don't get much better than this.
Without Love is a lovely song with a spoken word introduction that brings the meaning of the song to the forefront of the experience. As the song builds, I am blown away by the depth of Jones' vocal. As the final track on the album, it will compel you to listen to the album again, or stay within the Tom Jones catalogue.
Help Yourself is an incredible album that plays like a greatest hits release. While I still believe his best work can be heard on Praise And Blame and Spirit In The Room, Help Yourself is one of his greatest recordings.
For this review, I listened to the 1989 mastering on TIDAL Hi-Fi. Other than the omitted track, this edition was an absolute pleasure to listen to. Yes, it has a slightly concealed sound, but that is reminiscent of the style applied during the era. It is also important to note that this edition is extended from the original 1968 LP. For reference, the original release ended with All I Can Say Is Goodbye. Despite this, either tracking makes for an exceptional release and the additional tracks blend well, making it a very enjoyable album experience.