Fireworks

Tommy James - 'Three Times In Love' / 'HiFi' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/2c/28/95/1104_TommyJamesThreeTimesInLoveHifi_1300056973.jpg Hot

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The third in a series of reissues by Angel Air of Tommy James' solo output.

The third in a series of reissues by Angel Air of Tommy James' solo output comes the collection of 1980's 'Three Times In Love', and 'Hi-Fi', which although it was released almost a decade later was the follow up to 'Three Times...'. James, who was and still is best known for his sixties hits 'Hanky Panky', 'Mony Mony', 'I Think We're Alone Now' and 'Sweet Cherry Wine' with his Shondells had already begun to move away from his chart friendly rock 'n' roll roots and by the time of 'Three Times In Love' his music was beginning to lean into the country-lite area that The Eagles occupied. There is however a more AOR vibe that made for some smooth, gently rocking tracks, that sometimes up the tempo rather convincingly, although to be honest can be a bit too sugary sweet of its own good. 'You Got Me' and 'Long Way Down' actually make for a solid introduction to this album, with some great vocal harmonies and sedate riffs bouncing off a simple beat and a pinging bass line in a way that does suggest that James had his sights firmly set on The Eagles. The title track slows things down with layers of vocals and James fantastic voice resulting in an AOR - country crossover that resulted in a top twenty hit in the US. There's no doubt that it's easy going stuff, but nonetheless James' classy song structures survive the eighties synths and polite production to be thoroughly enjoyable, if not exactly spectacular.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Whilst actively touring and recording demos during the eighties, 'Three Times In Love' was the only new release from James during the decade, with much of his time being spent freeing himself from an unfavourable publishing contract. With all this down time James and his new drummer Glenn Wyka demoed up a barrow load of songs, so that when it became time for them to record 'Hi-Fi', there was a stock pile to choose from. The pair had also been familiarising themselves with the move from analogue to digital recording, as well as the use of synthesizers and drum machines, and it has to be said that this aspect of what they had been working on is what makes 'Hi-Fi' the less satisfying of this pair of albums. Sounding more like eighties pop ('You Take My Breath Away' sounds like it could have been a Wham Single!) than AOR, or rock 'n' roll, 'Hi-Fi' leaves you in absolutely no doubt about when these songs were written, with echoing drum sounds, jaunty, almost jarringly cheerful keyboard stabs and busy synth led arrangements sounding very of - or in truth maybe a little behind its time. James still has the voice to raise the songs above the average, but 'Hi-Fi' does not show the strongest side of his solo work.

As with the other Tommy James re-releases from Angel Air, the sleeve notes are extensive, interesting and written with James' cooperation, although the remarkable amount of questionable hairstyles sported by the man himself in the included pictures are a sight to behold!

Steven Reid

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