Between 1966 and 1973, Tommy James issued thirteen albums on Roulette either as a solo performer or with The Shondells and this 6xCD package collects together everything from that era.
The group exploded on to the charts in America with Hanky Panky in 1964. We, in Britain, bought just enough copies when it was eventually released here in 1966 to make number 38 on our charts, but had the group continued in that raw, sparse, almost novelty style, that might have been the last we heard of them, but the following year Tommy James & The Shondells adopted a ‘pop / bubblegum’ style which despite having an ultra-commercial sound failed to click with British record buyers until Mony Mony arrived in 1968 and soared to the top spot.
Between Hanky Panky and Mony Mony, we ignored I Think We’re Alone Now (Tiffany would have a hit with that song in 1988) and Out Of The Blue, two among many of the groups’s releases that deserved more recognition.
Perhaps, before British record buyers could really catch up with their ‘pop’ output, the group chose a different path for their music; they quickly adopted ‘psychedelia’ with songs like Crimson And Clover which gave the group another American number one. Continuing to ring the changes, the group’s next hits were the smoother Sweet Cherry Wine and Crystal Blue Persuasion before James went to Nashville to record a country-rock album…..and that’s the ‘problem’ with the group; they were chameleons, they changed their sound as often as we change our socks. Of course, all that means there’s much to enjoy in this release which, for the first time, chronicles the entire 141 tracks the group recorded for Roulette Records and with a superbly detailed booklet accompanying the CDs, this is a highly recommended education as well as entertainment.
Celebration – The Complete Roulette Records
Grapefruit Records QCRSEGBOX085
Written by Austin Powell
Austin Powell has spent his entire working life in the music business. From being an agent and manager of ‘beat groups’ in the sixties to working for major record companies in the seventies and eighties, he has also held management positions at radio stations in England, Wales and on the Isle Of Man. He continues to act as a consultant to several record companies and artists and presents a weekly ‘oldies’ show on Monday evenings on 101.8 WCR FM in Wolverhampton.