On December 4, the legendary performer Tom Jones will release a new album Long Lost Suitcase on S-Curve Records. The thirteen-song collection produced by multi-instrumentalist Ethan Johns keys into Jones’ long and eventful life, and draws performances of consummate maturity and pulsating vitality.
Ethan, son of Rolling Stones producer Glyn Johns, is uniquely talented in his own right, as his work with Paul McCartney, Laura Marling, Kings of Leon and indeed Jones, has shown. “Right from the start, Ethan and I were on the same page,” says Jones. “We think the same. I can trust him. Before the first album, he said, ‘I hear something in you that I don’t think has been tapped before. How about we go into a studio, take some musicians, work through some songs, and just do it live, on the fly? I think some great things will happen."
Long Lost Suitcase was mostly recorded at The Distillery, a little known studio facility in Wiltshire built by Sam Dyson, son of inventor James Dyson. Some of the players are familiar from Jones' previous albums, including drummer Jeremy Stacey (who also plays in Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds), bassist Dave Bronze, and of course Ethan, who plays guitar or keyboards on most tracks.
New to the team was Andy Fairweather Low, a fellow Welshman and peer of Tom’s from the early ’60s R&B scene, who started out in The Amen Corner, and later proved his guitar mastery on tours with Roger Waters and Eric Clapton.
The result is a powerful collection of thirteen newly-recorded songs that include the Celtic hoedown "Honey, Honey" by The Milk Carton Kids, the rollicking R&B tune "I Wish You Would" originally by Billy Boy Arnold and made famous the Yardbirds, a stripped-down version of Willie Nelson's "Opportunity To Cry" and many more.
As the album went along, Tom would remark that each song felt as if it was written about his own experiences, at a given point in his life. Jones recalls “Ethan said, ‘It’s like a bloody autobiography,' and I said, ‘Well, funny you should say that, because I’m actually working on one at the moment”.
Jones had signed up for his first-ever autobiography with Michael Joseph/Penguin, and from that conversation onwards, the two projects became inextricably entwined. As he spent hours recounting his life story – his upbringing in post-War Pontypridd, his dose of TB aged 12, his first gigs in working men’s clubs, his five decades as an international star – it inevitably called to mind songs which evoked key events and emotional upheavals described therein. Soon, all concerned began to regard the album as a kind of soundtrack to the book – and to Tom’s life. “We tried to make every song important,” says Tom.
Released as a companion soundtrack to coincide with the publication of "Over The Top And Back: The Autobiography," Long Lost Suitcase finds Tom letting rip on the kind of R&B and early rock & roll classics which originally fired his passion to sing some sixty years ago. If anyone has the right, the authority and indeed the equipment to tackle such material in 2015, it is surely the irrepressible Sir Tom Jones.
1) Opportunity To Cry (Willie Nelson)
2) Honey, Honey (The Milk Carton Kids)
3) Take My Love (I Want To Give It All To You) (Little Willie John)
4) Bring It On Home (Willie Dixon)
5) Everybody Loves A Train (Los Lobos)
6) Elvis Presley Blues (Gillian Welch)
7) He Was A Friend Of Mine (Dave Van Ronk)
8) Factory Girl (Rolling Stones)
9) I Wish You Would (Billy Boy Arnold)
10) 'Til My Back Ain't Got No Bone (William Bell)
11) Why Don't You Love Me Like You Used To Do? (Hank Williams)
12) Tomorrow Night (Original Song)
13) Raise A Ruckus (Original Song)