Tom Jones' 1967 LP 'Live At The Talk Of The Town' is probably my favourite album of all time. It's not the greatest record ever made, or even the greatest record Tom Jones ever made but, of all the thousands of pieces I've vinyl I've owned in my life, it's the one I love the best, so much so that I've had about thirty copies over the years, and will still buy one now if I find it at a reasonable price.
Recorded at a time when Tom's career was only a few years old but already in high gear, the album captures for all time a night of fantastic entertainment at one of London's premier venues. Tom is in incredible voice throughout, equally at home with uptempo material and the slowest, saddest of Yiddish ballads (Tom is always loud, but can also be subtle, expressive and very poignant when he wants to be). His set is a mix of hits, standards and a couple of the cool, groovy soul numbers that he always liked to perform when he got the chance. Inbetween songs he's witty and amusing, and he is brilliantly supported by his 'hoodlum' backing group The Squires and his musical director, Mr. Johnny Harris. I wish to Christ I'd been there.
Here's part one of four. After a terribly serious intro, Tom slams into the Sam Cooke number 'Ain't That Good News', almost certainly whilst swinging his hips and thrusting his nethers towards the ladies of the audience. He gets his breath back with a light but dignified 'Hello, Young Lovers', saving his energy for a powerful, throaty 'I Can't Stop Loving You'. This little section ends with a note-perfect take on 'Whats New Pussycat?' - pretty annoying on record but in a live context it's whimsical and fun, and gives TJ another chance to flail his arms and bits about.
Oh, and I don't mean to be rude but, if you don't see or can't hear just how great this LP is, I don't want to know. If you love it, on the other hand, call me, perhaps we can get our people to sort out lunch, maybe a City Break.