24 Hours

Tom Jones

Parlophone Records, 2008


REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


I’ve been planning on reviewing this album since last year, but every time I sat down to finish my piece, I’d start listening to something else and write about that instead. Just why that is I’m not sure, because this recent release from Tom Jones happens to be one of his very best. When Jones released 24 Hours, he had already been singing for half a century (and had been famous for most of that time).

The pride of Wales, Jones has had trouble over the years trying to “update” his sound and image when it really wasn’t necessary. A hip cover of Prince’s “Kiss” in 1989 worked a treat, but the dreadful attempt at reinvention with the rancid The Lead And How To Swing It (1995) failed miserably. Tom did, however, hit pay dirt with a Brit-pop covers/duets album aptly titled Reload (1999) before faltering again with a lame attempt at some serious R&B/hip-hop style grooves on 2002’s Mr. Jones.

So it’s with great pleasure that I can tell you just how good 24 Hours really is and how incredibly powerful that world-famous voice still is. One of the most pleasing aspects of this album is that instead of trying for a completely new sound, Jones and his producers finally have succeeded in reinventing his own unique style. There’s still plenty of horns and big, big choruses, but there’s also some great urban beats and beefy arrangements for Jones to really go to town on. 

Opener “I’m Alive” is a perfect example of all these elements working in unison. It’s both brassy and heavy, backed by a great rhythm track, and upfront from the get-go is Mr. Jones himself declaring, “I’m alive / And I’m seeing things mighty clear today / I’m alive.” my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And for the next twelve tracks, the quality never dips below brilliant, his voice remains almost perfect, and the songs are expertly crafted for the singer. More highlights include the Bono/Edge composition “Sugar Daddy,” which finds Jones reassuring us he still has the “position” and the “ammunition” to warrant his sex-god status. In anyone else’s hands it would be hysterical for all the wrong reasons, but Jones gets it done with all the bravado and conviction he can muster. “In Style And Rhythm” is another knockout track that is perfect for him in every way. It’s a cool, breezy number that is a nice change from the overall “bigness” of 24 Hours

“If He Should Ever Leave You” is the most vintage-sounding cut on the record, and it works superbly for Jones, who made similar songs like “It’s Not Unusual” and “What’s New Pussycat” his trademark sound. The most poignant song on the record is easily “The Road,” which Jones co-wrote as a dedication to his wife of almost fifty years. Jones laments his life on the road and all of its spoils while soulfully declaring his love for his missus; it’s a beautiful song and a rare insight into the notoriously private singer’s life. 

More love-themed gems appear with “We Got Love” and “Give A Little Love,” both of which complement the album superbly. “Seasons” is the standout ballad that recalls “The Green, Green Grass Of Home,” no doubt due to the fact that Jones’ voice has barely changed since his glory days. It’s just a little older and a tad deeper, and although some of those huge notes are no longer attainable, with material as good as this, he really doesn’t need them anyway. 

Last but not least is a curious inclusion, but a very worthy one nonetheless. “The Hitter” is taken from Bruce Springsteen’s morbidly acoustic and somewhat underwhelming album Devils & Dust. On that record, it comes near the end of a collection of songs that sound very similar and it loses some of its poignancy as a result. Here, however, Jones has given it the treatment a song like this deserves. His battle-weary voice is perfectly suited to lament the life and times of a once great prizefighter. He gets inside the character and delivers one of his greatest interpretations ever.

Overall, I hope that this album gets the kudos it deserves. Tom Jones is in rare form here, and not only did he deliver this collection of songs with a conviction and passion that’s been missing from his work for some time, he also had a hand in writing most of the material here. 24 Hours could very well be Tom Jones’ best ever album; it’s that good.

Rating: A

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I'm going to get this album because of your review.I've always liked Tom Jones, I hope I like this album as much as you do Mark Millan.

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