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James, Tommy & The Shondells: Live And On Fire

Probably like many teenagers growing up in the early 80's I first heard Tommy James' name through Joan Jett's 1982 rendition of his 1968 psychedelic pop anthem "Crimson And Clover". Since then the legendary singer / songwriter's songs have been covered by a diverse cross section of musicians such as Tiffany, REM, Billy Idol, Prince and Bruce Springsteen, to name just a few. Although his career with his band The Shondells was a fairly short one, from approximately 1965 to 1970, he's sold over one hundred million records and racked up twenty three gold singles and nine gold and platinum albums over the course of his forty five year career, which isn't too shabby. However, not content with simply being just another nostalgia act out on the touring circuit James still continues to record new music, and now in early 60's he shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Live And On Fire just released by Angel Air Records in the U.K. is a two CD/DVD disc set that contains a re-release of his 2006 album Hold The Fire, while the DVD portion features a live show captured at The Bitter End in NYC back in 2000.

Containing mostly original tracks, as well as a gorgeous sounding, gospel flavored update of "Sweet Cherry Wine", a song that's message is still extremely relevant today since it first appeared on the 1969 Cellophane Symphony album, Hold Your Fire was a true to return to form for James. In addition to revisiting his roots with "Lupe And Joe", which is a cleverly arranged medley of The Righteous Brothers' "Little Latin Lupe Lu" and The Rocky Fellers' "Killer Joe", the album also yielded three top five singles on the adult contemporary charts with "Isn't That The Guy", the power ballad "Love Words" and the slick sounding title track. While this style of light sounding, mainstream, adult contemporary rock probably won't appeal to the majority of SoT's readers, it definitely shows that Tommy James still has the ability to write commercial, hook laden songs. Not to mention his voice still sounds as pristine as ever.

The DVD captured at The Bitter End is an all hits affair that captures James and his 'new' Shondells performing spot on versions of "Draggin' The Line", "Crystal Blue Persuasion", "Hanky Panky", "I Think We're Alone Now", "Crimson And Clover" and "Mony Mony" over the course of their sixty minute set which was recorded in front of an intimate audience. James works the crowd and shows his appreciation for the fans by venturing out into the audience to shake as many hands as possible during "Mony Mony", which I think sums up his genuine, down to earth nature. Included in the extra's section is a nice sit down interview with Tommy in which he goes over some of the more memorable highlights of his long and storied career.

All in all Live And On Fire is well put together package that delivers a more than decent bang for your buck. As I mentioned earlier, Tommy James and his brand of baby boomer rock probably isn't something the average SoT reader is really going to be interested in. However, that being said one cannot deny the fact that Tommy James And The Shondells made their mark back in the earlier days of rock 'n roll by writing timeless songs that are still being heard to this day on various different radio formats all over the world. If you're a fan of Tommy James and The Shondells then you're going to want to pick this one up, and you'll be happy to know that Angel Air has more re-releases of his scheduled for 2011.

Track Listing

CD- Disc One: Hold The Fire
1) Isn't That The Guy
2) Lupe And Joe
3) Hold The Fire
4) Love Words
5) Megamation Man
6) Sweet Cherry Wine
7) It Keeps On Goin'
8) Angels and Strangers
9) Give It All
10) Ordinary Girl
11) Amy
12) I Just Wanna Play The Music (Bonus Track)
13) I Think We're Alone Now (Live Bonus Track)

DVD -Disc Two: Live At The Bitter End
1) Draggin' The Line
2) Crystal Blue Persuasion
3) Say I Am (What I Am)
4) Sugar On Sunday
5) Gettin' Together
6) Tighter, Tighter
7) Crimson And Clover
8) Hanky Panky
9) I Think We're Alone Now
10) Mony Mony
11) Sweet Cherry Wine
12) Mirage
13) Mony Mony (reprise)

Added: January 3rd 2011
Reviewer: Ryan Sparks
Score:
Related Link: Angel Air
Hits: 1273
Language: english

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