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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


Bill Withers - Just As I Am

I heard this on the radio in the States, and I loved the songwriting. He was coming up with something different, it was a soulful folk, so I went and bought the album in LA, I thought “I gotta hear what this guy does” and every bloody track on it is a gem.

I’ve always loved the sound of an album, maybe as much as the songs themselves, you know the performance, the sound of it makes a big difference to me. And now you know you can get box sets with alternate takes, and you realise then how long it took them sometimes to get the final take. The first time they did it was good, but then all of a sudden - boom - and there it is. I think there’s a good learning process to listen to the ones they didn’t let go, where the producers said “not yet”, and they persevered until... there it is.

When I’ve been in a club sometimes, I’ve gotten up [on stage] and they’ve been like, “Do ‘Delilah’!”, and I’ve said “Let me just do this, which I don’t normally do". So it is, because when you’ve made big records - great onstage, the way you do your own show - but it’s great to do other stuff when you don’t have to do those things. Not that I don’t like them, you know ‘Delilah’’s a great record, but its nice to do other things. So when you hear someone like Bill Withers doing something like that and being successful, you think, “See, there’s room for that.” There’s room for all different kinds of records. They don’t all have to be the same, or in the same vein, or chasing some things just to get a hit record.