Crimson & Clover
The psychedelic era changed the game for everyone. Hard rock artists worked on the album format and singles artists like Tommy James & The Shondells worked up singles that were their own peculiar trip. While James and his cohorts were lumped into the “bubblegum” category, their artistic range and experimentalism led them far further afield than their radio reputation suggests. “Crimson and Clover” was the overwhelming hit here, and deservedly so, but the artful “Crystal Blue Persuasion” was a close runner up. However, beyond these two well-noted tracks are some beautifully freaked-out moments such as “I’m a Tangerine” and “Sugar On Sunday” and power-pop cuts like “Do Something to Me,” “Breakaway” and “I’m Alive,” where the band explores their funkier side (which had always been part of James’ arsenal reaching back to the first album). “Kathleen McArthur” is a sweet ballad worthy of Donovan. It’s amazing just how unforced and eclectic James actually was. For those who wish to peek behind the curtain, this is a fine place to start.