The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

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


Elvis Presley - Elvis Presley
That first album, that sounds great to me. The first one we heard was ‘Heartbreak Hotel', because I don't think they ever released the Sun records - the RCA records came out first.

We had a great friendship - I met him in 1965 the first year I went to the States. He was doing a movie at Paramount Studios, and I was at Paramount to talk about a song for a movie and they said 'Elvis Presley is filming here today, and he heard that you're coming over, and he'd like to meet you.' Like to meet me? I tell you, I didn't even know he knew I existed. I had three singles out at the time: ‘It's Not Unusual', ‘What's New Pussycat?' and a ballad called ‘With These Hands', and he had the three of them. He was walking towards me singing ‘With These Hands' - [impersonates Elvis] 'with these hands'. And then he said, 'How do you sing like that?' And I said, 'It's your fault, you were partly to blame!' He said, 'Well, you know, I come from Mississippi, I was born there, I was brought up with this stuff. What's it like in Wales? Are there any black people there?' I said, 'Only when they come out of the coal mine! No, it's listening to American music on the radio - that's where I've got it from.' He couldn't believe that somebody could sing like me not being influenced first hand, like he was - the gospel thing, listening to gospel groups and blues clubs like that.

He preferred a lot of the later things that he did. I said, 'That early stuff on Sun Records, man, I mean jeez'. He said, 'Ah, it was very primitive - we didn't have very good equipment and it's a lot better now." And I said, 'But there's fire there', and he said 'I'm glad you think so." But he didn't do them on stage. I said, 'You want to open with them, open with ‘Blue Suede Shoes'.' But no, he wouldn't do it. Then one time, on his own special, he starts to go into some ‘Whole Lotta Shakin'' and then he goes on into another, and he said, 'We could do this all night', so you could see he was really wanting to do it. But he wasn't thrilled with those early recordings, he thought he made better records later on.