TOM JONES / RONNIE WOOD: interview: Why everyone’s still singing the blues

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Neil McCormick:
In a dingy, crowded rehearsal studio in north London, Sir Tom Jones sits on a high stool, facing his five-piece band as they come to the rumbling end of another song. “Sounds a bit timid to me,” says the grey-haired, grey-bearded, deeply tanned 72-year-old veteran. “Let’s do it again.”

A set list rests on an instrument case, 32 abbreviated titles representing the day’s work. Jones’s pop standards are easy to identify: Pussycat, Unusual, Delilah, Kiss, Green Green Grass. But the set is bulked out with less predictable fare, represented by titles such as Burning Hell, Memphis/Shotgun, St James and Evil. “Kick out the jams, brothers and sisters!” proclaims the bassist cheerfully, as the band shift back into action with a slinky bass and guitar riff, grinding through a tough, tight version of a song by the late US blues preacher Blind Willie Johnson. Jones slides off his stool, stands at the microphone and growls “Won’t somebody tell me what is the soul of a man?” in a low, dark voice that could strike the fear of God into an atheist.

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