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POP MUSIC REVIEWS : Tom Jones at House of Blues: Still Leading With the Hip

October 08, 1994|STEVE HOCHMAN

If Tony Bennett's recent pop resurgence proved the enduring attraction of a cool hip quality, Tom Jones' nascent revival rests on the eternal appeal of hot hips.

And there was plenty of pelvic action at the House of Blues on Thursday--in the boisterous audience as well as on stage--when Jones performed to launch his new album, "The Lead and How to Swing It." Although it was the sexy gyrations that drew the most squeals (and underwear tossed by fans), Jones showed that 30 years after he first hit the pop charts, he's got more going for him.

The album--with songs crafted by a range of producers, including New Jack R&B star Teddy Riley, English modernist Flood and retro-master Jeff Lynne--is too-self-conscious and inconsistent in its effort to make Jones seem current, but the show was simply terrific entertainment.

Jones, looking truly thrilled to be there and, even after all these years, genuinely amused by the underthings, downplayed the Vegas shtick he's associated with and stuck to the music and his dynamic stage persona. His versatile band and still-strong tenor slid smoothly among new material such as his version of Yaz's electro-pop "Move Out" and his own '60s signatures, "It's Not Unusual" and "What's New Pussycat?"

But when he turned up the pelvic action for encores of Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way" (to be featured in the upcoming Jerky Boys movie) and Prince's "Kiss," the number that put Jones back in the Top 40 a few years back, it was pure pandemonium. And that was hot and cool.

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