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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


Jerry Lee Lewis - The Sun Years
'Whole Lotta Shakin'', was the first time I heard him, in Pontypridd, being played from Freddy Fey's record shop. People used to ask me, because I loved music so much, 'What do you think of this record, what do you think of that record?' When Elvis Presley came out, I said he can't be the only one - a white man being influenced by black music in the South. So when 'Whole Lotta Shakin'' came out, my friends said, 'Is that what you're talking about?' I said, 'That's exactly what I'm talking about!' Another guy, playing piano, similar to what Elvis was doing, but even more syncopated, white and from the South. It was unbelievable to hear that record. Then 'Great Balls Of Fire' followed, and 'High School Confidential' was a great record.

When you listen to his records, he always sings up, except towards when he got older and the pressures of life got on him. In the beginning, he was always up, you know the ends of everything came up. Little Richard was pushing the shit out of everything but Jerry Lee, he had his syncopation, it was like he floated. He fell out of favour, because he married his cousin - it was a shame, he was still making great records. There's one called 'Loving Up A Storm' and that's equally good. That's on The Sun Years, they're all there.

I saw him live in Cardiff in 1962, and Johnny Kidd and the Pirates were there and they were slick... I thought, 'Shit, how's Jerry Lee going to get over this?', because they closed the first half. He came on, and instead of how Johnny Kidd and the Pirates were very aggressive, Jerry Lee was the opposite, he opened up with 'Move On Down The Line' and the band were like [sings] and he just walked on and was like [gestures] showing us the the chord he was going to play. He just sat down at the piano and - boom - went into it. It was like 'Jesus Christ!' You know, it was smooth, it was slick, it was rock & roll but he wasn't like, screaming - he had a different take on it and yet it was rocking.