[9 June 2009]
Paul Jones is best remembered for taking centre-stage, “looking sweet”, and belting out ‘60s classics like “Do Wah Diddy” and “Pretty Flamingo” as part of the original Manfred Mann line-up—before he split in order to pursue a successful acting career in 1966, that is. And although he returned to the mic, fronting British R&B institution the Blues Band in 1979 and, more recently, found himself back in the middle of the reformed Manfred’s line-up, Starting All Over Again is Jones’s first solo album in 37 years. On the evidence gathered here, one question begs to be asked: What’s taken you so damn long, Mr. Jones?
With help from guest musicians, including former Hollies member Mikael Rickfors and Eric Clapton (“Choose Or Cop Out” and a superb cover of Johnnie Taylor’s “Starting All Over Again”), the many shades of the blues are vividly brought to life as Mike Thompson’s fluid Hammond B3, Jake Andrew’s stinging electric blues guitar and bursts of sweet blown brass impel Jones to strut uptown with soulful sophistication on Little Johnnie Taylor’s “If You Love Me (Like You Say) and “Still True”, finger-pop his way into jazzy, after-hours cool with “Sundown” and stomp all over Van Morrison’s “Philosopher’s Stone”. And if that’s not enough, a bonus track, “Big Blue Diamonds”, featuring a powerhouse duet between Jones and Percy Sledge, taken from the latter’s 2004 album Shining Through the Rain closes the record. Now, for once that is a bonus worth having. Great stuff!