If your folks came of age in the 1960s and you are looking to bolster your British Invasion street cred, toss on a copy of Paul Jones’ Starting All Over Again and wait for your mom or dad to ask, "Why does that voice sound so familiar?"
You can respond with a snappy, "Why, that’s because it’s Paul Jones, the former lead singer of Manfred Mann."
Jones rose to pop music stardom with Manfred Mann in the early 1960s, topping the charts with hits like "Do Wah Diddy Diddy." He turned to acting in 1966, starring on stage and screen, and founded The Blues Band in 1979. Starting All Over Again marks his first solo work in decades.
The wait was well worth it, for Jones has returned with a vengeance.
Starting All Over Again is a bluesy gem brimming with the finest in guest players. Eric Clapton plays on two tunes, "Choose or Cop Out" and the title track," while Jones’s band is fleshed out with sidemen who have played with Stevie Wonder (drummer Alvino Bennett), The Rolling Stones (saxophonist Ernie Watts), and Neil Young (bassist Tony Marsico), among others.
Jones serves notice on the disc opener "Lover to Cry," with its gritty riff and strong harp work, that Starting All Over Again will be a blues tour de force. Van Morrison’s "Philosopher’s Stone" reeks of dark Chicago juke joints with its traditional blues shuffle; swampy harmonica drives the instrumental "Alvino’s Entourage’; and Jones and company take on a bit of big band crooning in "Gratefully Blue."
The highlight of the record is actually a bonus track, "Big Blue Diamonds." Dominated by big piano and the legendary Percy Sledge on vocals, "Big Blue Diamonds" caps off this bluesy journey.
With Starting All Over Again, Paul Jones triumphantly announces his return. Let’s hope he doesn’t stay away this long the next time.
Starting All Over Again is out now on Collector’s Choice.