Paul Jones: Starting All Over Again

pauljones_startingalloveragainFormer Manfred Mann vocalist resurfaces as a bluesman

If you lost track of Paul Jones after he sang Manfred Mann’s seminal British Invasion hits (“Do Wah Diddy,” “Pretty Flamingo,” “Sha La La”), or if you failed to reconnect with his lengthy tenure in the UK-based Blues Band, you’re in for a surprise. The husky R&B voice he brought to Mann’s early works has weathered lightly, and nineteen albums into his side gig as a bluesman (his main occupations have been actor and radio host) he’s returning to U.S. shores on reissue giant Collectors’ Choice’s first new music release. Produced by Carla Olson, the album is filled with terrific instrumental talent, including Austin guitarist Jake Andrews, keyboardist Mike Thompson and a horn section that includes Joe Sublett and Ernie Watts. Eric Clapton lends his guitar to Jones’ original “Choose or Cop Out” and a cover of Mel & Tim’s “Starting All Over Again,” and Percy Sledge (who is in terrific voice) teams with Jones on a superb horn-driven cover of “Big Blue Diamonds.”

Those who dug beyond Manfred Mann’s singles won’t be too surprised to find blues at the core of Jones’ solo work, supplemented by R&B and jazz flavors. Though he’s not the strutting youngster of 1964, he still shows the same adventurousness and complexity that separated Mann’s work from much of the British Invasion pack. In addition to straightforward blues numbers, he lends a jazz croon to “Gratefully Blue,” leans on the second-line funk of Little Johnnie Taylor’s “If You Love Me (Like You Say),” and pairs his harmonica with Mike Thompson’s roadhouse piano on Van Morrison’s “Philosopher’s Stone.” Jones picks up songs from a few surprising places, including “I’m Gone” from the Swedish retro garage-blues band The Creeps and “Need to Know” from British/Nigerian soul singer Ola Onabule.

Some of the album’s best tracks are found in the final quartet, starting with the Stax-styled gospel-soul “Still True” and the newly written acoustic country-blues “When He Comes.” The band’s instrumental chops are highlighted on “Alvino’s Entourage,” with drummer Alvino Bennett laying down a second-line groove and Jones, Andrews and Thompson each taking a solo. The closing “Big Blue Diamonds” opens with a rolling piano by Clayton Ivey, a terrific sax and trumpet horn chart, and a Fats Domino styled vocal by Percy Sledge. It’s hard to believe this was recorded in Los Angeles – hopefully Mr. Jones will get to the Crescent City for a follow-up. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

MP3 | Still True
Paul Jones’ BBC Radio Program
The Manfreds’ Home Page
The Blues Band’s Home Page

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