Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tommy James & The Shondells - Crimson & Clover - Cellophane Symphony

Release Date:
Original Release Date : Rulette Reords EMI 1969
CRIMSON & CLOVER originally released on Roulette (42023).
CELLOPHANE SYMPHONY originally released on Roulette (42030).
Rhino Records 1991
This release: Sequel Records 1993

Crimson & Clover/Cellophane Symphony
Tommy James & The Shondells: 
Tommy James (vocals, guitar, keyboards); Eddie Gray (guitar, background vocals); Ronnie Rosman (keyboards, background vocals); Mike Vale (bass, background vocals); Pete Lucia (drums, percussion, background vocals).
Crimson & Clover:
The highest charting album by Tommy James And The Shondells (it made the Top 10), marked the arrival of the group's psychedelic style and featured the chart-topping title tune, "Crystal Blue Persuasion," which just missed the top of the charts, and the Top 40 hit "Do Something To Me."
It's hard to believe that the elegant, eclectic pop recordings of this album were made by the same people who turned in the rockers "I Think We're Alone Now" and "Mony Mony." But James And The Shondells were pop professionals ready and willing to follow the Sgt. Pepper trend into experimentation, as long as it panned out commercially.

Even the most dedicated hack gets lucky, however, and Tommy James was lucky more often than most. "Crimson & Clover" and "Crystal Blue Persuasion" retain a campy appeal ages after the '60s, and if the filler on the album is even sillier now than it was then ("Hello, banana, I am a tangerine," indeed!), it's no less fun 
1. Crimson & Clover 
2. Kathleen McArthur 
3. I Am a Tangerine 
4. Do Something to Me 
5. Crystal Blue Persuasion 
6. Sugar on Sunday - Tommy James 
7. Breakaway 
8. Smokey Roads 
9. I'm Alive 
10. Crimson & Clover (Reprise) 
11. Cellophane Symphony 
12. Makin' Good Time 
13. Evergreen 
14. Sweet Cherry Wine 
15. Papa Rolled His Own 
16. Changes 
17. Loved One 
18. I Know Who I Am 
19. Love of a Woman 
20. On Behalf of the Entire Staff & Management
Cellophane Symphony:
Credited to Tommy James & the Shondells, came only seven catalog numbers after the Crimson & Clover album, but oddly got a Top Ten hit in between the four hits that the earlier disc spawned.
"Sweet Cherry Wine" is as good a pop song as one will ever hear, hitting the Top Ten in April of 1969, five months after "Do Something to Me" and five months before "Sugar on Sunday," both from Crimson & Clover (though it was the Clique who clicked with their version of "Sugar on Sunday"). 
This beautiful song, "Sweet Cherry Wine," is the epitome of peace, love, and '60s understanding, with a sound that is very much like TJ's own version of "Sugar on Sunday." The radio attention to a single on the highly experimental Cellophane Symphony is equally extraordinary because the album is very much like Tommy James doing his own Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
There are oddities, like side one's closer, "Papa Rolled His Own," which could be "When I'm Sixty Four" meets "You Know My Name, Look up the Number"; two Beatles offbeat ditties; and the almost as wacky "On Behalf of the Entire Staff & Management," which ends side two.
In between is some lovely pop music, which one finds after they trip their way through the amazing nine and a half minutes of the title track.
The instrumental song "Cellophane Symphony" is early Pink Floyd meets "20,000 Light Years From Home" when the Stones gave Satanic Majesties Request. It is the only title credited to the entire band, followed by two of five Ritchie Cordell/Tommy James co-writes: the poppy and excellent "Makin' Good Time" and the beautiful "Evergreen." Covered in keyboards and acoustic guitar, "Evergreen" is Tommy James being the folky and the pop star, a unique look at this underrated and important artist.
It's a perfect setup to "Sweet Cherry Wine," which is the standout track, the subtle intro exploding into a chorus of the best type of anti-war sentiment: "Let's just get along." 
Pete Lucia writes two songs with James, one being the amazing "Changes," which opens side two, while Mike Vale helps James on "Loved One," making this a very special collection of ten songs wrapped up in a stunning black-and-white psychedelic cover of a hatch shell, empty benches, and cool '60s photography. 
Though Tommy James is all over the book Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth, he is beyond just an artist who hit with that genre.
He's an artist whose value is evident on his country album, My Hed, My Bed, and My Red Guitar, as well as other catalog treats, like this disc with its strong compositions "Loved One," "The Love of a Woman," and the Richard Grasso/Tommy James hit that is a true pop classic, "Sweet Cherry Wine."
(all infofmation from
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