- Artist: B.J. Thomas
- Release Date: November 10, 2009
- Total Time: 68:46
- Type: Compilation (best of)
- Genre: Country
ReviewAfter slogging it out on the Texas indie circuit during the first half of the ‘60s, B.J. Thomas hooked up with Huey P. Meaux and Sceptre Records in 1966. This was on the heels of Thomas releasing a full-length album with his supporting band the Triumphs, a record called I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, and B.J. used the same title for his Sceptre debut, which makes sense as it’s the first single that brought him to the charts. Thomas’ version of Hank Williams’ standard emphasized pop over country without completely pulling out the roots, a fairly good indication of the blend of roots musics on the LP. Under the guise of a pop singer, Thomas dabbles with country, blues, and soul, never quite committing fully to any of these sounds, but sounding fairly convincing in each. He’s a good enough mimic to replicate Tom Jones’ swagger on “It’s Not Unusual,” he pounds out a good “In the Midnight Hour,” lays back easy on the country slow dance “The Titles Tell,” and he’s unashamed to lay on the corn on “Bring Back the Time” and “Mama,” a quality that would serve him well later. If the record winds up seeming scattershot, a collection of different sounds in search of a hit, that’s because it is: Thomas was game to try anything that could perhaps reach the charts, and no one style fit him better than the next. As such, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry winds up playing a bit as a mid-‘60s sampler, which makes it an enjoyable period piece as well as a fairly promising debut.
Like its predecessor, B.J. Thomas' second album, Tomorrow Never Comes, is characterized by its soulful dabbling. Thomas doesn’t have one style, he has many, rooted in country and soul, sometimes touching on the blues, often wrapping this all up in a punch pop confection. This rootless roots music is diverse, but it doesn’t necessarily play as versatility, perhaps because Thomas is almost too adept in adapting to his surroundings, not pushing through his personality but rather going with the flow. This isn’t necessarily a problem, particularly on Tomorrow Never Comes, which has an easy touch Thomas would later leave behind, but it does leave him at the mercy of his songs, many written and/or arranged by his Triumphs bandmate Mark Clarron, which alternate between the solid and saccharine here. Thomas may have a flair for the kitsch but not even he can save Clarron’s rewrite of his cornball “Mama” as “Daddy” -- nor does he seem truly invested in the weird tale of the suicidal “Plain Jane” -- so the album winds up being on much firmer ground on the stomping “Gonna Send You Back to Georgia,” the shimmering of “Baby Cried,” the mini-melodrama of “Walkin’ Back” and the lively “Mystery of Tomorrow.” Perhaps these aren’t forgotten gems, or cuts that should have been hits, but they’re solid ‘60s AM pop songs that remain enjoyable even if they're not quite distinctive. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
CreditsSteve Cropper (Composer), Carole King (Composer), Wilson Pickett (Composer), Gerry Goffin (Composer), Ernest Tubb (Composer), Johnny Bond (Composer), Huey P. Meaux (Composer), Huey P. Meaux (Producer), Huey P. Meaux (Personal Manager), Gordon Mills (Composer), Glen Spreen (Arranger), Charles Underwood (Composer), Hank Williams (Composer), Jim Pierson (Reissue Producer), Mike Ragogna (Liner Notes), Burt Goldblatt (Design), Burt Goldblatt (Cover Photo), Les Reed (Composer), Mark Charron (Arranger), Mark Charron (Composer), Johnnie Mae Matthews (Composer), Charlie Booth (Producer), Charlie Booth (Personal Manager), Gordon Anderson (Executive Producer), D. Jones (Engineer), Ted Carfrae (Remixing), Mike Gross (Liner Notes), O. Perry (Engineer), Leo O'Neil (Arranger), Leo O'Neil (Engineer), Jake Hammond Jr. (Composer), Geoffrey Hobson (Engineer), Gaylon Shelby (Engineer), Robert Thibodeux (Composer)