"Praise and Blame" is Tom Jones's first gospel album. It is not a gospel album in the usual sense; it is more in the sense of a Buddy Miller or Bob Dylan gospel album (and the most apt comparison for this CD might well be Buddy Miller's "Universal United House of Prayer"). Speaking of Dylan, this set opens with a gorgeous rendition of Dylan's "What Good Am I?" Jones's take on this song rivals another wonderful version several years back by Solomon Burke. In addition to "What Good Am I?" we get a marvelous cover of Billy Joe Shaver's "If I Give My Soul" (taken at a slower tempo than the original Shaver version), Susan Werner's "Did Trouble Me" (a modern masterpiece), John Lee Hooker's "Burning Hell," and The Staple Singers' "Don't Knock." Adding to these more modern songs Jones also goes back to Rosetta Tharpe and Mahalia Jackson. The arrangements are appropriately and often hauntingly spare. It is amazing and pleasing to note how Jones's enormous musical gifts are still very much intact at 70 and after nearly a half-century of performing. "Praise and Blame" is among the four best albums of Jones's career. Any Tom Jones fan will have to have this CD in his collection. Fans of gosepl music and blues music should delight in it as well.
69 people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?