At 75 years of age, Tom Jones the man, the legend, the voice is in fabulous shape. In the latest upturn in his fabled career, Sir Tom has been more acclaimed than ever before, thanks to a series of rootsy albums he s recorded in collaboration with producer and multi-instrumentalist Ethan Johns. Their third effort, Long Lost Suitcase , may just be their best, explicitly keying into Jones own long and eventful life, and drawing from him performances of consummate maturity, but also pulsating vitality.
As the album went along, Tom would remark that each song felt as if it was written about his own experiences, at a given point in his life. As he spent hours recounting his life story his upbringing in post-War Pontypridd, his dose of TB aged 12, his first gigs in working men s club, his five decades as an international star it inevitably called to mind songs which evoked key events and emotional upheavals described therein. From its evocative title down, Long Lost Suitcase feels like a time capsule from this iconic singer s youth, vibrantly brought alive in the here and now.
The first single, Elvis Presley Blues, is a tribute to The King written by Nashville s Gillian Welch, given a personal revamp by Elvis s friend. The two first met on the set of Paradise, Hawaiian Style at Paramount Film Studios in 65, and remained close through their respective Vegas years , up to Presley s passing in 77. Tom describes the single as a vivid picture of Elvis early career… a celebration of my old friend.
Released as a companion soundtrack to coincide with the publication of Over The Top And Back: The Autobiography , Long Lost Suitcase finds Tom letting rip on the kind of R&B and early rock & roll classics, which originally fired his passion to sing, some sixty years ago. If anyone has the right, the authority and indeed the equipment to tackle such material in 2015, it is surely the irrepressible Sir Tom Jones.