Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Reference 160M Amplifier (February 2019)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)

S-Curve Records 7315500429
Format: CD

Musical Performance

Sound Quality

Overall Enjoyment

The booklet for Tom Jones’s new disc, Long Lost Suitcase, is filled with pictures of the singer, from his childhood to his years as a hitmaker in the 1960s. The disc was released in conjunction with Jones’s autobiography, Over the Top and Back, and its songs encompass the many styles of music that have influenced him.

Long Lost Suitcase is the third consecutive Jones disc to be produced by Ethan Johns, who has given him the kind of simple, unfussy treatment that Rick Rubin provided to Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond. Gone are the big arrangements that marked Jones’s early recordings and made him a star. Johns often provides barebones accompaniment that gives Jones room to use his voice dynamically, letting it drop quietly when needed and using his considerable vocal power to underline the emotional meaning in a song.

For Gillian Welch’s “Elvis Presley Blues,” Johns plays a distorted guitar with a heavy vibrato behind Jones, who reaches deep for a performance that is dramatic and stirring. Jones was influenced by Presley, but he was also a friend, and his performance conveys the sadness at losing him and an understanding of the sometimes dreaded power of fame.

Long Lost Suitcase

A trio backs Jones on Willie Nelson’s “Opportunity to Cry,” and the singer gives himself over to the song’s sad story. So many Jones recordings have given him plenty of chances to unleash the sheer power of his voice, but with Johns’s help he gets to show his versatility. Members of the Irish band Rackhouse Pilfer give “Honey, Honey” a bluegrass flavor, and Jones sings the tune as a duet with Imelda May. He sounds as natural in that setting as he does in the old-time music arrangement of the Rolling Stones’ “Factory Girl.”

Long Lost Suitcase reaches back to the 1930s for “Tomorrow Night,” a Lonnie Johnson tune for which Johns provides a haunting arrangement that takes Jones and us back in time. Jones is in stomping blues form on Eddie Floyd’s “’Til My Back Ain’t Got No Bone,” but I found myself wishing a horn section had been part of the action.

Even as some of us cringed at Jones’s big hits, such as “It’s Not Unusual,” we suspected he could have been a great soul or blues singer. “Take My Love (I Want to Give It All to You)” is close to Little Willie John’s original, with the dark-sounding guitars giving the tune a vintage Chess Records sound. “Bring It On Home” has its own swagger, different from Sonny Boy Williamson’s version, but it is still blues without compromise.

For all its stylistic variety, Long Lost Suitcase holds together because Jones handles blues, country, and rock with equal ease, and because Johns and the other musicians on the disc -- including guitarist Andy Fairweather Low, bassist Dave Bronze, and drummer Jeremy Stacey -- are versatile players themselves.

Johns mixed most of the disc, and Mandy Parnell mastered it. Jones’s vocals are well out in front and the instruments are cleanly rendered, but I often wished for more space between Jones and the players, especially on the blues tunes. Despite that reservation, Long Lost Suitcase is moving and personal. Listen to it along with Jones’s other Johns productions, Praise & Blame (2010) and Spirit in the Room (2012), and hear a singer make his claim to greatness.

. . . Joseph Taylor