Tom Jones is clearly well-meaning, approaches his music with unyielding gusto, and has surely done wonders for the gaiety of the nation. But frankly I can’t stand him. A comical background figure in the way that national treasures often are, I didn’t notice him much until his various bellowing comebacks in the mid-90s. Well, I thought, his early stuff was probably alright. I’m still open to persuasion, but the evidence so far isn’t swaying me.

The best Tom Jones song is probably “What’s New, Pussycat?”, which uses his brashness to maximum effect, matches it with a steamroller arrangement and is also happily, entirely ridiculous. I still don’t enjoy it much but I can see what it’s doing. “It’s Not Unusual” has just as much muscle but aside from the closing yelps Jones’ delivery is a one-note bludgeon. Has anyone ever sounded happier singing about wanting to die?

Alright, I admit it, he’s a charismatic bastard and I can only really really dislike him if I work hard at it. And yes, his voice is a powerful thing even if used for ill. But I still come away from his records feeling like I have spit all over my face.

Score: 4

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