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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


Amy Winehouse - Back To Black
When she did the video of 'Rehab', I thought 'Jesus, what is that?' - again, that initial thing... I thought, 'shit, she sounds tremendous, who is this kid?' And it looked great, and the arrangement was great and the whole package was great, and I had to get the album. So I got the CD and it just got better and better. You hear her getting into the ballad, 'Love Is A Losing Game' - that's like a standard, that comes from a jazz standard, something one of the old jazzers would have done, that's how good that is. She nails the shit out if it. The whole album is tremendous, and it's just a shame - making an album like that and then nothing.

The band I take on the road with me is the same brass section that she used to use. So when she died, we were in France and I saw it on BBC news, and I came down to the bar that night and I said 'my God, how did that happen? She must have thought she was indestructible', and they said the opposite - she had loved living on the edge apparently, it was that thing of danger, that's what they felt. I wish I'd met her and had a chance to sing with her because she had a lot to offer, and she had a great spirit and what she sang was tremendous. I would have loved to duet. When you record something was somebody, it lasts forever, and if you haven't, it's a shame.

It's a shame that it [drug addiction] happened to her so early. With Whitney Houston, she's left a wealth of material to listen to, but Amy Winehouse, I know she did an album before that, but Back To Black is tremendous, you just think 'shit!' Just waiting for the next, and now there is no next and it's a bloody shame. The drug thing, it never appealed to me. Sniffing cocaine, I know what it does. For singers, it's death - it gets on your vocal chords, it's bad news. Burns your bloody nose out. I've never taken any drugs. The only thing I took was at the beginning, purple hearts, because I was doing so many shows and I was getting tired. I think it was Viv Prince, who used to be a drummer with The Pretty Things, who said, 'try one of these, that'll keep you awake', but then I realised you couldn't go to sleep! So that was a short-lived thing. And I'll take a sleeping pill when I've got to go to sleep and I know I need to get up, but mild ones, nothing heavy, because I don't want anything to get in the way of what I do. And when I've gone a little too far drinking and I think 'oh shit, I've got to get up tomorrow', then you see it, and you think 'you fucking idiot! You stretched it too far last night'. So you do that enough times and you learn, but some people don't learn.