Tommy James & the Shondells Collection Coming
40 Years contains the A-side of every single James released (with or without the Shondells) on six different labels from 1966 to 2006 (plus an ultra-rare 1962 bonus track) with in-depth liner notes penned by Ed Osborne and Tommy James' biographer, Martin Fitzpatrick, and photos from Tommy's personal archive. As with did the recent Collectors' Choice Jan & Dean Compete Liberty Singles release, 40 Years contains the original single mixes, not the remixed versions heard on previous collections. Fifteen Shondells' tracks and five of Tommy's solo singles are in their original mono mixes, almost all of which are making their CD debut.
The album leads off with the original slower version of "Hanky Panky" which appeared on the Snap label in 1966, followed by the classic Roulette singles: "Say I Am (What I Am)," "It's Only Love," "I Think We're Alone Now," "Mirage" (with an extra vocal overdub not heard on the stereo version), "I Like the Way," "Gettin' Together," "Out of the Blue," "Get Out Now," "Mony Mony" (original single mix and edit), "Somebody Cares" (with single-only overdubs), "Do Something to Me" (from the original sped-up single master), "Crimson & Clover" (single edit), "Sweet Cherry Wine," "Crystal Blue Persuasion," "Ball of Fire," "She," "Gotta Get Back to You" (single version, not the one heard on the Rhino volume Anthology) and "Come to Me" (shorter single version). And those are only the Tommy James & the Shondells sides — the album contains James' solo works, too.
Tommy's solo career began in 1970 with the single "Ball and Chain" from the Tommy James album. 1971's "Draggin' the Line" (since covered by R.E.M.) was his first solo smash, and the version heard on 40 Years features the original single mix version. The singles "Adrienne," "I'm Comin' Home," and "Nothing To Hide" also appear here in their unique single mixes, while the version of "Calico" is the one that charted (not the jazzier version found on Anthology).
The collection contains all of Tommy's post-Roulette singles, including "I Love You Love Me Love" (with the Tower of Power horns), his version of "Tighter, Tighter" (which he'd produced for Alive And Kicking in 1970), "Love Will Find A Way" (featuring the Doobies' Michael McDonald and The Eagles' Timothy B. Schmidt), and his chart-topping Adult Contemporary single from 1980, "Three Times in Love."
James eventually started his own Aura label and scored three more chart sides when "Isn't That The Guy," "Love Words," and "Hold The Fire" all went Top 5 on FMQB's AC chart and "Love Words" hit #1: 40 years after "Hanky Panky" topped the Hot 100.
Also featured on the collection is a rare pre-Shondells bonus track: Tom & the Tornadoes' 1962 single "Long Pony Tail." It was James' first record.
The liner notes retrace some of the band's many anecdotes. "Hanky Panky" was a crowd-rousing song 17-year-old James had heard a local bar band play and, sensing a hit, recorded it with all made-up lyrics at a Niles, Michigan radio station. It was released on the Snap label and that was that — until a Pittsburgh radio promoter called him to inform him that it was a radio smash with 80,000 bootlegged copies sold. It was then that he recruited a Pittsburgh band called the Raconteurs to be his own. Tommy left the Raconteurs brand for the White Stripes' Jack White to commandeer 42 years later when they took on the Shondells name instead.
The anecdotes continue through the story behind the "Mony Mony" title (James looked out and saw a sign for Mutual of New York Insurance) and how the Shondells became presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey's official campaign band (HHH would later write the liner notes for the multi-platinum Crimson & Clover album.)
James says, "I'd really like to thank the Good Lord and the fans. It's been an incredible ride."
And the ride's not over. Tommy and the original surviving Shondells — Mike Vale, Eddie Gray, and Ron Rosman — are back in the studio making new music. But that's for another volume.
Click here to read today's full Day in Rock report