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Baker's Dozen

"Shit, That Sounds Tremendous!" Tom Jones On His 13 Favourite Albums
Laurie Tuffrey , May 17th, 2012 05:33

With his new album, Spirit In The Room, on the way, Sir Tom Jones reflects on his favourite LPs and tells Laurie Tuffrey about his friends Elvis, Aretha and Stevie

Sir Tom has been a busy man of late. He's one of the judges on the BBC's TV talent show The Voice and he's made his acting debut, as a former teddy boy in the TV play Playhouse Presents... King of the Teds. This month, he'll release his thirty-eighth - yep, that's right, thirty-eighth - studio album, Spirit In The Room.

The new LP sees him continue down the elder-statesman-of-pop route he began on 2010's Praise & Blame, laying to one side the brassy Vegas productions of old and producing a set of stripped down covers. "Finally, you know, I've got back to where I am, back to where I started,' he says. 'Simple, down-to-earth, in-your-face stuff, without having any of the big arrangements and things." That famous tenor is put to good use on rootsy interpretations of Blind Willie Johnson's 'Soul Of A Man' and Tom Waits's 'Bad As Me', which get set alongside a gentle version of Richard and Linda Thompson's 'Dimming Of The Day', closing with a choral-inflected take on 'Charlie Darwin' by The Low Anthem.

And on top of all this, he's had to pick out his favourite thirteen albums. Although none of the album's covered artists appear in Tom's Baker's Dozen, his approach to music appreciation is unique, the kind that only a multi-millionaire singer with an address book that reads like a who's who of the good and the great of pop music can go for: "If I like something, I would want to record it, and I've been able to do it, but not so much earlier as I can now. Which is very gratifying."

His favourite albums, barring a trio of more recent LPs, are mainly early rock & roll and soul cuts. Solomon Burke and Little Richard are in there, as are Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder, and Sir Tom's old mate, Elvis. It did, though, come close to just being a run down of Jerry Lee Lewis's back catalogue: "We didn't want this to sound too retro," he explains of the Quietus list. "You said give us thirteen albums, I said, 'Well, okay, Jerry Lee Lewis, parts 1, 2 and 3... parts 1-13!'"

Click on the image below to begin browsing Tom's favourite albums