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Praise & Blame Enhanced

4.5 out of 5 stars 202 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (26 July 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Enhanced
  • Label: Universal / Island
  • ASIN: B003LDKIVO
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (202 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,864 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

39th studio album by the legendary Welsh singer. The album is produced by Ethan Johns and is largely made up of country, blues and gospel covers, including 'Burning Hell' (John Lee Hooker), 'Strange Things' (Sister Rosetta Tharpe), 'What Good Am I?' (Bob Dylan), and many more.

BBC Review

This gospel and blues set is the back to basics gambit from Sir Tom. It’s worked for Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond in the past, this stripping of vogues to expose the singer’s raw talent: perversely, it endeared both to younger audiences. Yet Jones is a different entity: his charm was never based on authenticity. In his early career he shifted his pelvis and hollered cracking pop songs, and even his big weepy ballads were knowingly camp. His comeback period – dreamed up by his son/manager – was all irony and winks, targeted at hen parties not critics. Blessed with a soulful voice, he made an unveiled Faustian pact long ago.

Thus a move that should by rights be applauded and affecting – this is, after all, a 70-year-old singing, often, about death – doesn’t come off. It’s a gauche mix of church and the rock’n’roll chestnuts he grew up on. Outside Robert Plant, it’s hard to see who it’ll appeal to. A sincere reimagining of more arch songs – like Cash doing Hurt – would have grabbed our throats and hearts. This, though, is an old fella singing songs that mean little to anyone outside his generation. It’s like hearing war stories from wizened veterans: you should, by any moral compass, be impressed and attentive, but the guilty, undeniable truth is... you’re a little bored.

Ethan Johns (Kings of Leon, Paolo Nutini) produces – minimally – and guests include Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings and BJ Cole. Songs were recorded live and Tom relishes tackling the gothic-religious strains of Dylan’s What Good Am I and the bluesy tropes of John Lee Hooker’s Burning Hell. He’s no slouch barking Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s Strange Things or Mahalia Jackson’s Didn’t It Rain. He means it, sure. Yet these songs were what those people did, and Tom Jones is best at doing something else. Tom without flash is like The Wizard of Oz without a curtain. If you seek proof that he can cut it, and will live forever, look at moments in his scrapbook like I’ll Never Fall in Love Again or I’m Coming Home, not here.

--Chris Roberts

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Wright VINE VOICE on 25 July 2010
Format: Audio CD
This is a wonderful album right through, mixing styles from blues and gospel. It is a significant step away from the recent output of pop songs and radio-friendly collaborations; Praise & Blame captures Tom in full-blown singer mode, rather than entertainer. Indeed, his voice sounds magnificent throughout the album.

The comparisons to Johnny Cash are understandable as there are hints of the American Recordings in the choice of song and also vocal performances; there is a timbre and gravitas to Tom's voice that, while not quite as good as Cash in his later years, really shows his voice off in a way that perhaps his more recent albums don't. This album too is at times introspective like the American Recordings, particularly on the opening track, a cover of Dylan's 'What Good Am I?' or 'Did Trouble Me' where Jones explores questions of mortality. However, I would suggest that the style is more similar to 'Raising Sand' by Alison Krauss & Robert Plant. Blues and country mixes well with the occasional gospel songs on the album, and the tracks move swiftly and comfortably from plaintive ballads to scintillating blues numbers. There is not a weak song on the album and producer, Ethan Jones, is incredibly understanding with the arrangements, more often than not going with 'less is more'.

Tom Jones sounds like he is having a lot of fun on this album and it makes for an incredibly enjoyable listening experience. I hope that this is an indication of his future direction as he enters his 8th decade. Praise & Blame is highly recommended and while the songs are all covers, Tom makes them very much his own.
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Format: Audio CD
I've just come back from Latitude Festival where Tom Jones sang the songs from this album backed by the band on the album. Let me tell you, his voice is incredible, moving, resonating, powerful, soulful and beautiful. I'm pre-booking the album and I'm really looking forward to getting it. Can I just qualify this by saying I'm not a knicker throwing Tom Jones fan and I don't have his back catalogue. Highly recommended, five stars doesn't do it justice.
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Format: Audio CD
If Wales was an independent constitutional monarchy it would have a King called Tom and a Queen called Shirley. Indeed Tom Jones is so "big" in this part of the world that the news of one of his record company executives describing his new record "Praise and Blame" as a sick joke was greeted with outrage and was the lead story on the local news. Was this an attention grabbing PR stunt or is this record so "left-field and radical" that it will alienate the Pontypridd singer's thousands of loyal fans? The answer is certainly not the latter since "Praise and Blame" is a great record and sets out a pointer that should provide Tom Jones with a direction of travel for many years to come.

As Tom Jones gets older it is illustrative to note how he is approaching his seventh decade as a "singer" not an "entertainer". The distinction is crucial since it may be that this direction may confuse some fans who like the image of the great man all "Las Vegas" style (although I very much doubt it). But the thing about Tom Jones is that he is a very shrewd musician who knows that time dictates context and while he could keep rolling out those greatest hits he is at that point in life when its time to be more reflective but also go out fighting. His choice of songs on "Praise and blame" range from all out blues rock outs to contemplative Southern gospel. All these songs are delivered by that VOICE that sounds as good today as it did when he tread the boards of South Wales "workingmen's" clubs in his twenties. Indeed on "Praise and Blame" it is the quieter more reflective pieces that really impress. The opener is a cover of Dylan's self-questioning meditation "What good am I" which sets the tone, where over a pounding backdrop Jones delivers a beautifully restrained vocal which is impeccable in its clarity.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Sir Thomas John Woodward OBE, son of Pontypridd, aka Tom Jones, twinkle-eyed naughty knight of the realm, gets down and dirty with the Lord on this staggering album of gospel and blues, with a hectic dash of rock`n`roll thrown in.
Starting with a twenty-year-old Bob Dylan song, progressing through magnificently hollered overwrought belters such as Strange Things and Burning Hell, the rockin` hell-for-leather Don`t Knock, the much-covered (by everyone from Led Zep to Sandie Shaw) Nobody`s Fault But Mine, and a final trio of knockout gospellers Didn`t It Rain, Ain`t No Grave and Run On, this is a grainier Jones voice than we`re used to, and all the better and more effective for that.
It`s obviously an album he`s been waiting to make all his life.
One thing that strikes you immediately is the sound. Ethan (son of Glyn) Johns, apart from playing superb guitar throughout, has produced Tom with just the right in-your-face immediacy, giving these eleven songs exactly the rough-cut chutzpah they needed.
The magisterial Jones tonsils are those of a man of 70, but the power, far from being lessened, is now more concentrated, contained, and thereby much more moving than the rather stentorian Jones of yore. No Delilahs here - though plenty of Old Testament righteousness, mentions of Jesus, and apocalyptic menace. Delilah herself would`ve felt right at home. And Johnny Cash would`ve loved it!
I hovered between four & five stars, but the very fact that I find myself playing this short yet mighty album surprisingly often tells me to err on the side of generosity.
I bet Tom is proud of this. He should be.
Tremendous.
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