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Tom Jones The Definitive Collection Review

Compilation. Released 2003.  

BBC Review

This really is the definitive collection from a much-loved legend.

Adam Webb 2003

Amazing, but true, the career of Tom Jones has now straddled five decades. Since 1964 his sexually-charged growl has been a near-permanent fixture on the airwaves. In many ways the Welshman was a kind of prototype Robbie Williams, always more of an entertainer than an artist - the only difference being that Tom did crack America.

The first 2 CDs of this 4 disc collection are atreasure trove of kitsch,containing such delights as "It's Not Unusual", "Thunderball", "Delilah", "Green, Green Grass Of Home" and "What's New Pussycat?". To hear Tom whisper, 'Pussycat, pussycat you're so thrilling', must rank high among the campest musical moments in pop.

His unsuccessful debut single from 1964, "Chills & Fever", shows that Jones' trademark bellow was there from the start. A live rendition of "Land Of A 1000 Dances" demonstrates his incredible energy in front of a crowd. It feels like he's literally bouncing off the walls ofa casino - the ultimate 70's medallion man.

Although Mr.Jones has sometimes threatened to drown in the chest wig of his own machismo, he's always managed to avert career disaster with a sharp stylistic change. Perhaps what's most impressive is how successfully this alpha-male caricature has adapted to so many musical backdrops.

This is most evident on the third and fourth discs of the collection. Taking us from the Vegas period and up to Tom's renaissance in the 1990s, they draw strongly from The Lead & How To Swing It and Reload albums. That the likes of the Art Of Noise, Portishead, Cerys Matthews, Stereophonics and Robbie Williams leapt at the opportunity to perform with Jones just shows the continued potency of his allure.

And on listening to this collection it's evident that he produced some of his best work in this period. His version of "Kiss" is up there with Prince's original, Randy Newman's "You Can Leave Your Hat On" is now synonymous with northern male lap dancersand "Sexbomb" has becomea staple in nightclubs the world over.

Some of the covers might suffer from a lack of subtlety, but if you're a fan of Tom then subtlety probably isn't your thing - the man is at his best when bellowing. So slap on some Brut, put some chicken in the basket and prepare to throw your best new knickers; this really is the definitive collection from a much-loved legend.

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