I who have nothing

I who have nothingLabel: Decca
Released: Nov 1970

Buy I Who Have Nothing

Daughter Of Darkness
I Have Dreamed
Love’s Been Good To Me
Try A Little Tenderness
I (Who Have Nothing)
What The World Needs Now Is Love
With One Exception
To Love Somebody
Brother, Can You Spare A Dime
See Saw

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  1. I (Who Have Nothing) was another in a string of hit albums for Tom Jones during a stretch in which he placed nearly a dozen albums on the US Charts alone, most of them topping the million mark in sales. This set reached the Top 20 in both the US & UK and produced two transatlantic hit singles “Daughter Of Darkness” and the title track, each of which hit or just missed the Top 10 in both the US & UK.

    This is also one of Jones more varied albums from a mucical standpoint. The singer’s 1967 Greeen, Green Grass Of Home Set was an excellent example of Jones as a classic pop singer, turning in consistently quality performances on a set comprised almost exclusively of Broadway Show Tunes and pre rock era romantic standards. Likewise Jones’ 1968 album The Tom Jones Fever Zone (a US only release) was a highly acclaimed collection of R&B dance hits and ballads, in which Jones’ delivers knock out performances of covers of Wilson Pickett, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, The Supremes, and even turns classic standards like “Danny Boy” and country hits like “Funny How Time Slips Away” into scorching R&B numbers (the album also touted the hit single “Delilah”). Other Jones albums stayed mostly true to middle of the road pop ballads and enjoyed major sales success like his 1968 Help Yourself set and 1969’s This Is Tom Jones. For this set, Jones finds himself crooning show tunes, rocking on while covering Creedence Clear Water Revival, going soul pop on covers of Otis Redding, and updating an early 60s Ben E King hit from the Brill Building songwriters era into 1970s power ballad hit.

    Jones showcases his ability to be emotive without the soaring big voiced vocals on performances of pre rock standards such as “Love’s Been Good To Me” & “I Have Dreamed”. Likewise, the singer has little trouble settling into the rock & roll of “See Saw” and CCR’s “Lodi”. Its more pop than soul on Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness” but there is definately some R&B chops showcased none the less, even if Jones at times seems a little too over the top (mostly at the song’s conclusion where you can almost picture the singer echoing his misplaced shouts to a live crowd of screaming fans in an arena). It may have provided great theater for a live show but it seems a bit over done strictly on record. Along the way Jones and his band do an excellent rock version of the Bee Gees “To Love Somebody”, turning this well known pop ballad into a song that sounds like a true Tom Jones original. Often, especially with standards and show tunes, Jones gave performances that stayed true to the originals in vocals and arrangements, essentially doing great versions of old songs but versions that didn’t differentiate from better quality versions done by other noted pop singers. Occasionally, Jones and his band would completely change arrangements and presentation and turn an “old” song into a clear “Tom Jones” song, this is one of those instances.

    Jones reaches far back for the depression era power ballad “Brother Can You Spare A Dime”, a classic performance piece suited to the Tom Jones power ballad style that proved popular at the time. Its that same performance style that exemplifies Jones cover of “I (Who Have Nothing)”, the Brill Building penned classic that gave former Drifters lead singer Ben E. King a US Top 40 hit as a solo artist in the early 1960s. It’s the Jones version that is by the far the most famous in both the States and England, not only because of the significant sales success his version had vs various others through the years but for the dramatic, show stopping performances Jones gave promoting the song on his This Is Tom Jones Variety Show. If you haven’t seen Jones in his prime singing this song its a sight to behold and you should check out YouTube for the footage.

    The original compositions are few here, although “Daughter of Darkness”, a “Delilah” rip off of sorts, was a transatlantic hit single. “Cant Stop Loving You” was included on the US release and was in fact a US Top 40 hit for the singer in late 1970. Back to remakes, Jones penchant for heavy orchestration and string arrangements during this period adds a new wrinkle to an otherwise faithful remake of “What The World Needs Now” in which Jones wisely avoids over the top singing for a more restrained approach that worked well elsewhere on this set delivering a quality version of the late 60s hallmark hit.

    There really isn’t a bad number in this collection, no “what was he thinking” performances, even the weakest links like “Daughter of Darkness” coming across as enjoyable and the strongest numbers such as “Love’s Been Good To Me”, “To Love Sombody”, “Lodi”, and the title track showing Jones ability to deliver quality performances to a very wide range of musical styles. A worthy addition to any Tom Jones collection and one of the most varied set of the singer’s commercial hey day.

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