Tom Jones and Jools Holland (2004)

Tom Jones

Tom and Jools talk about their album and a shared love of rock 'n' roll.

Jools Holland is looking very chuffed with himself.

As they waited to record their appearance on Parkinson, Tom Jones was telling him what happened when he played a copy of the pair's new album - a mix of old blues and rock 'n' roll songs and some new ones of their own - to Jerry Lee Lewis, who provided much inspiration for the album.

"He loved it," Tom said. "He asked how old Jools was and I said he was in his 40s. And Jerry said, 'Tell that boy he can play'.

"Coming from Jerry Lee Lewis, that's amazing. He doesn't like other piano players. He thinks he invented boogie-woogie, so I was knocked out by that."

As you can imagine, Jools was similarly bowled over. "Well, I was so flattered," he said with a grin. "In fact we had to get the builders round, because my head was so big we had to knock a wall out.

"And one of my hobbies is boasting down the pub, so I was straight down there with something to boast about."

With hindsight, a collaboration between Tom Jones and Jools Holland seemed inevitable. Both started their careers singing in the pubs and clubs and they share a love of old rock 'n' roll and blues tracks which they both performed in those early days.

"This is material that we both loved when we first started doing it," said Tom. "I heard a lot of these records when they first came out. It's the kind of stuff that I started doing - rock 'n' roll, rhythm and blues, soulful ballads.

Tom and Jools discovered this shared interest in 1998, when Tom first appeared on Jool's annual New Year's Eve hootenanny.

During rehearsals, Jools began tinkering on the piano and Tom joined him, interested by the familiar sounds.

We realised we loved the same songs

Jools Holland

"We realised we loved the same songs," said Jools. "A couple of years later he came on 'Later with Jools Holland', and the same thing happened. Because we found out we knew these songs and they sounded so good, we put them in the show.

"Then we went to dinner one night and Tom started singing. I could see people straining to see what was going on and I thought, 'This is mad. We should make a record'."

As Tom and Jools had other commitments, it took the pair some time to get together. But when they did, they found they had immediate chemistry.

As such, the album sounds like you're in the studio with them. Each song is on the CD as it was done the first time and sounds as fresh and raw and heartfelt as you would expect from such a straightforward and basic method of recording.

"We wanted to keep it light," said Tom. "What we first did in the rehearsal room on Jools's hootenanny, that's what we wanted to record."

"The other thing," continued Jools, "is we hope that when you hear this record - because some are old songs and some we've written alongside them - the old songs sound like our reinvention of them.

"We both really want this album to be recognisably us."


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