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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Tommy James

Greatest Hits: Live

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve liked Tommy James for as long as I can remember. I’ve yet to see him live, but this disc makes me feel a bit like I have. This recording features so many of the Tommy James hits performed live. It’s really amazing how many hits he’s had and how many of his songs have later been hits for others. This album shows that those songs are still great live pieces.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Intro

This is quite literally a spoken introduction with announcements.

Draggin' The Line
They manage to bring a more modern edge to this piece while retaining the magic of the number. This piece still works so well, even all those years on. It has a definite 1960s vibe to the chorus. James’ voice is in fine form. The guitar solo really brings that more modern edge to the table in terms of the sound.
Crystal Blue Persuasion
I don’t remember this song having such a jazzy sound or such a Motown vibe to it. Still, it feels faithful. The vocal harmonies are top notch and this is another great performance of a great tune. Again, the guitar sound seems more modern at times.
Say I Am
I don’t think I remember this song. It’s got a lot of 1950s rock and roll built it. It’s a catchy number that works well.
Sugar on Sunday
This is a great pop rocker that is very much in keeping with the Tommy James sound. Again, I don’t think I remember hearing this one before. It’s a catchy piece that’s infectious.
Gettin' Together
With more of those 1950s sounds, this feels like a great combination of the 50s and 60s. It’s another catchy piece and another that works quite well in the live setting.
Tighter Tighter
I love the guitar sound on the breaks here. The vocal harmonies are very soulful and this is another catchy piece of music.
Crimson and Clover
This was the song that made me a Tommy James fan. They put in a great rocking live rendition here. I still love the sound of this thing.
Hanky Panky
Somehow I forgot how much surf music is built into the guitar sound of this. It’s still a catchy rocker that works well.
I Think We're Alone Now
It’s a pretty safe bet that most people in the modern world have heard at least one version of this song. It still works as well as it ever did and this live recording is great.
Mony Mony
This is another that’s been covered a lot. Here is the originator, though. This one still holds up great and they put a killer jam into the middle of this thing. Each member of the group gets to show off a little bit as James introduces them one by one.
Sweet Cherry Wine
Less hard rocking, this hit is delivered in fine live fashion here.
Mirage
This is very much a pop song. It’s a great live version, too.
Mony Mony Reprise
They close the set by bringing it back out into “Mony Mony.”
 
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