(Collectors’ Choice Music)
It’s rare that an artist can make a leap that spans forty
years and then have it seem as if no time has passed at all. Yet singer Paul Jones appears to have
accomplished that very feat with the aptly dubbed Starting All Over Again.
Having gained fame in the mid ‘60s as the lead singer of Manfred Mann,
under whose charge he was forced to mouth such innocuous ditties as “Doo Wah
Diddy” and “Pretty Flamingo,” his more serious intents eventually led him to an
equally puerile solo career and a stint in films where he did only marginally
better. His last attempt at musicianship
came at the start of this decade with the quickly forgettable Showcase, giving little reason to
suspect Jones was destined for anything other than a final fade into obscurity.
Happily then, Starting
All Over Again gives credence to its title although it’s hardly the grand
comeback that might have catapulted Jones back to superstardom. Mostly it’s a set of sturdy, workman-like
blues that showcases Jones as a capable singer and an adept harp player who
excels when given suitable material.
Here he glides through a variety of templates, from old school R&B
to variations of a cocktail lounge croon, and while there’s no obvious instant
classic, the songs impart a venerable sort of visage that serves him well. Having recruited a solid group of support musicians,
most of whom are unknown — save for Eric Clapton who contributes an inspired
performance on the title track and the sole original, “Choose o Cop Out” — the
arrangements are solid and sometimes incendiary, boosting Jones’ credence in
the process. A bonus track featuring a
duet with Percy Sledge, “Big Blue Diamonds,” not only finds him in esteemed
company, but more importantly, actually deserving to be there.
Standout tracks: “Starting All Over Again,” “Big Blue Diamonds” LEE ZIMMERMAN