It always fascinates me to consider how differently things could have worked out had people chosen another path way, way back in time. Back in 1962 two young men, both called Jones, met whilst at an Alexis Korner gig, and discovered that they shared a love of the blues. Brian invited Paul to join his band, the Rolling Stones. Paul turned it down and a short while later joined Manfred Man.
Despite being remembered for hit singles such as “5-4-3-2-1”, "Pretty Flamingo”, and “Do Wah Diddy”, Manfred Man had started out as an R &B band. They soon found themselves sharing a stage with Sonny Boy Williamson, amongst others. Paul’s writing skills also led to his songs being covered by the likes of Ten Years After, Steppenwolf, and Santana.
The rest of his incredible career has seen him make a success of everything he has tried. He wrote music for film, television, and commercials. He hosted his own radio shows, appeared on television as a presenter, and was featured on the long running This Is Your Life programme.
In 1966 he launched a solo career and left Manfred Man. His song “I’ve Been A Bad Bad Boy”, written for the film Privilege, gave him another hit. At this time his acting career was taking off and he became a highly regarded full time theatre actor appearing on Broadway, in London’s West End, and at the Bristol Old Vic. His roles included Romeo and Hamlet.
In 1979 he formed The Blues Band to satisfy his continuing love of all things
R&B. After thirty years of combining his acting, alongside television, and touring with the band he has somehow found the time to release his first solo album for many a year. Starting All Over Again is the result.
For the album Paul has called upon an impressive list of musicians, including Eric Clapton who plays on two tracks, and sax legend Ernie Watts. Eric and Paul worked together before in the short lived band Powerhouse back in the sixties. Stevie Wonder drummer Alvino Bennett, Neil Young bassist Tony Marsico, and soul star Percy Sledge also guest.
He delivers an album that not only satisfies his own need to show his love for R &B, but it will invigorate your love of the genre. Starting All Over Again opens with the superb “Lover To Cry”, a song written by Austin blues-man Jake Andrews, who plays guitar on the album.
Next up is Paul’s world renowned harmonica sound that opens the Johnny Taylor song “If You Love Me (Like You Say)”. It is incredible to think that those two young guys called Jones, shared something else that confirms their legendary status within the development of music. Both were right-up there at the top when it came to playing the blues harp.
“Choose Or Cop Out” is the first Paul Jones penned song featured and Eric Clapton’s first appearance on the album. It is instantly recognisable guitar from one of the finest ever. Paul’s voice has stood up well despite, or maybe, because of, it’s heavy work schedule over the years.
“Sundown” sleazes in and leads seductively to the stand-out title track, which again features Eric this time with a smouldering blues solo. Written by Philip Mitchell it taps nicely into Paul’s personal faith. It is a faith that has inspired many others over the years and resulted in him presenting his own programme on satellites God Channel.
“I’m Gone” has a late night vibe of reflection that is sung expertly by Paul Jones. Van Morrison’s blues drenched “Philosophers Stone” follows as the perfect showcase for those harp skills once again.
The pen of US blues-man Eric Bibb provides the next track, “Gratefully Blue”, written along with Kjell Segebrant. Again it’s a late night end of the bar, empty glass, song. It's strength provides the perfect platform for this legendary performer.
As this is his first solo effort for quite some time you can listen to the album in the safe knowledge that each track has been carefully and lovingly chosen. A funky “Need To Know” picks up the tempo again, before “Still True” eases it back down with a gorgeous song of love. “When He Comes” provides another highlight with Mikael Rickfors (The Hollies) adding some excellent acoustic that sits nicely below Paul’s harmonica and impressive vocals.
“Alvino’s Entourage”, another Jake Andrews track follows. It is an excellent six minute instrumental that comes complete with freight train harp and a typically searing guitar solo from Jake himself. It is set above some excellent drumming from Alvino Bennett, and superb keys from Mike Thompson (The Eagles).
The bonus track “Big Blue Diamonds”, closes a really enjoyable album. Featuring Percy Sledge on this Earl Carson penned song it provides a highly fitting quality ending to a quality recording. All of this is surely guaranteed to get you reaching for your old R & B vinyl.
Paul Jones has enjoyed a remarkable career that has seen him excelling at everything he has done. Starting All Over Again is definitely something that he has no need to do following all of those successes. It does however provide a timely reminder of Paul Jones’ place in the history of music.
One last question is how on earth does he look the same as he did in 1966, judging by the album cover?