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Back to 1966 with B.J. Thomas.

Music Review: B.J. Thomas – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry/Tomorrow Never Comes

B.J. Thomas’ career has now spanned four decades. And while he has released dozens of albums, he is probably best remembered for his hit singles. Songs such as “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “The Eyes Of A New York Woman,” “Hooked On A Feeling,” “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” “Mighty Clouds Of Joy” along with his two number one hits “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” and “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” sold millions of copies and remain memorable decades after their release.

Thomas' musical journey began during the sixties in Houston, Texas with his backing band The Triumphs. He would issue twelve albums for the Scepter Label 1966-1973. Collector’s Choice has now reissued eight of these early albums as four twofers, comprising the complete albums plus some rare B-sides and a few unissued tracks to create 26 songs per CD.

My first exposure to B.J. Thomas was the single, “Billy and Sue,” which was a top forty hit for a minor label. While it was not included on any of his early LP releases, it remains a wonderful artifact of the sixties and is worth seeking out.

The first twofer, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry/Tomorrow Never Comes, combines his first two albums which were both released in 1966. His first album is the better of the two, with “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and “Mama” both becoming hits. The title song is a wonderful rendition of Hank Williams' classic country masterpiece—and may be the best cover of this old standard—as he moves it over into a pop sound with a poignant and plaintive vocal. The album would also establish his relationship with songwriter Mark Charron who composed half of its original twelve tracks.

As with many albums of this era there are a few covers of popular hits of the day. Wilson Pickett’s “Midnight Hour” and the Tom Jones hit, “It’s Not Unusual,” are competent but another Hank Williams tune, “There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight,” is outstanding.

Tomorrow Never Comes is a nice slice of mid-sixties pop but contains no big hits. Mark Charron composed nine of its twelve tracks here, the best of which are “Ashes Of Dreams You Let Die,” “My Home Town,” and “Candy Baby.” Other outstanding tracks are Thomas' cover of the old country tune, “Tomorrow Never Comes,” and “Gonna Send You Back To Georgia.”

All the material has been remastered and the sound is vastly superior to the original vinyl releases. An accompanying booklet presents a nice history of the two albums as well. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry/Tomorrow Never Comes is a nice look at both the early career of a pop master and of sixties pop music itself. Both albums have been out of print for years and it’s nice to have them available again.

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