Release Date: Jul 27, 2010
Record label: Mercury Nashville
Genre(s): Vocal, Pop/Rock, American Trad Rock
For those who think Tom Jones is nothing but kitsch, camp, and sex appeal, this rootsy, poignant, and highly spiritual album will come as a shock. On the other hand, for those who have kept up with his recent activity, Praise & Blame seemed inevitable with Sir Tom’s appearance in Martin Scorsese’s The Blues being the big clue. In the PBS documentary, Jones displayed a shockingly deep knowledge and deeper love of the American songbook, just as he does here.
Tom Jones's 39th studio album sees him taking the Johnny Cash route: stripping away the showbiz fripperies and recording songs that are intended to capture the gravitas and depth of a man who has lived long and seen much. Indeed, Billy Joe Shaver's If I Give My Soul, which appears here, was also recorded by Cash for his American Recordings series. There are differences, though: few would suggest Jones is haunted by his past in the way Cash was.
It’s easy to throw Tom Jones onto the pile of senior-citizen music legends who hook up with a hotshot producer for a rustic, back-to-basics record, shaving off enough schlocky gloss to inspire a new hipster resurgence. This is the Cash-Rubin Principle of the last 15 years or so. Rick Rubin also got his hands on Neil Diamond’s knobs, Jack White resurrected Loretta Lynn, Ryan Adams took on Willie Nelson, Don Was dusted off Kris Kristofferson, T-Bone Burnett helped give Robert Plant his biggest hit in years, etc.
People scoffed when Tom Jones showed up in Martin Scorsese’s PBS documentary series The Blues alongside the likes of Eric ?Clapton. But Mr. ”What’s New, Pussycat?” has an unmistakable flair for black vernacular music. On Praise & Blame, the singer revels in gutbucket and gospel, delivering 12 emotionally charged sermon-songs with raw-throated abandon.
KORN “Korn III: Remember Who You Are” (Roadrunner) Korn, from Bakersfield, Calif., rode high from about 1996 to 2002, soldering together metal, hip-hop and disco under the singer Jonathan Davis’s whirligig vocal performances. He made one-man reenactments of master-slave relationships, practicing abject whining as an extreme sport. The whole band lurched and squeaked and thrashed without solos; when that wasn’t exciting enough, big choruses did the rest.
It may seem a little weird to compare Tom Jones to Johnny Cash. But about ten seconds into Jones’s new Praise and Blame CD, that comparison just happens. On this excellent collection of songs examining the human condition, Jones confronts the issues of heaven and hell in a way that Cash did for much of his life, especially toward the end of it. That’s the first basis for comparison.
A confusing release that will appeal little to those beyond Jones’ generation. Chris Roberts 2010 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.