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Review: The Living Room Sessions – B.J. Thomas

Review: The Living Room Sessions – B.J. Thomas

by Roger Wink

The musical landscape of the last decade is littered with albums by veteran artists who have rerecorded their hits in duets. Some have been adequate (Frank Sinatra, Lionel Richie) and some great (Tony Bennett). Add B.J. Thomas to the great end of the spectrum.

Thomas has rerecorded many of his hits in the past for different labels, but never like this. These are stripped down versions of his hits. No big orchestras, no fancy production, just a small group of backing musicians keeping the feel of the songs but letting the vocals pour through.

And what vocals they are. Thomas, at 70, sounds as good today as he did during his peak period of the 60’s and early-70’s. Listen to his version of I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, here in a duet with Isaac Slade of the Fray. Those final notes are as crystal clear and strong as they were on the original recording from 1966.

The majority of Thomas’ hits are here (although I would like to have seen Mighty Clouds of Joy) and he takes four of them on by himself, a rarity for this type of album. Included are two of my favorites, Whatever Happened to Old Fashioned Love, a number 1 country hit that deserved to do better on the pop charts, and the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song Everybody’s Out of Town. On the original 1970 recording, a rather campy trumpet part was interspersed throughout the record. Here, that part remains but, in a stroke of genius, is replaced with bottleneck guitar.

Thomas’ duet partners are all well chosen from relative unknowns like his Wrinkled Records label mate Etta Britt on the 1983 country chart topper New Looks From an Old Lover and actress/singer Sara Niemietz on Hooked on a Feeling to veterans Vince Gill on I Just Can’t Help Believing and Richard Marx on (Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.

The real joy, though, are the glorious songs and Thomas’ still pristine voice which includes just a small added touch of maturity and knowledge that can only come through many years of living and working in the music industry. This is a real gem.

5 Responses to Review: The Living Room Sessions – B.J. Thomas

  1. BJ Thomas was a guest at the Jimmie Menutis Club in the 60’s. I am Jimmie,s wife and interested in booking BJ for a concert in either New Orleans or Lafayette Louisiana as a celebration for his 89 birthday.
    Jimmie is very active and healthy. He often speaks of BJ and I think most of BJ,s friends and fans would also come from Houston. Please check and advise if he has a date between August and November?

    Thanks for your response

    • Dear B.J. and Gloria, April 25, 2013

      I went to Sandia High School here in Albuquerque and graduated in 1974. I listened to your beautiful music constantly, and always loved your Christian songs. As a Christian myself, I’ve been thru severe trials and hardships. Your music and testimony continue to inspire me and many others. The Holy Spirit is real so don’t think He has every left you. You have been correct….people need the love of Christ. John 3:16

      You can sing anything because God has blessed you!!!

      At 56, I’m at the very end of my senior year in college, so I really am praying for His direction now! My kids are Jason, Candice, Troy and grandson Anthony Jr. God is good.

      His Very Best,

      Katrina McIntyre (Pacheco)
      (Rio Rancho, NM)

  2. i am just now discovering Mr Thomas music of the early 70’s and loving it and after listening to a few samples i just knew i had to have the latest cd. i am dealing with 2 kinds of cancer the last year n a half so mostly stay home so just to have his cds to relax to is great medicine for someone in my condition. just watch the dvd of the Christmas show from yrs ago and loved that! great show! peace, marc

  3. I picked up the CD at his concert at Centralia College WA State and love it so much. The accoustic guitar and mandolin in the background sound incredible. The duets were well chosen. A beautiful continuation of a beautiful evening. I also saw BJ on RFD-TV both Larry’s Country Diner, and Country Family Reunion series. More fun stuff. Good job BJ and glad you survived “The Diner”. The Sheriff did a great job too.

    Another sister in Christ, Suzanne

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