I remember watching This is Tom Jones when I was 11, largely because my mother was such a huge fan. But there were benefits to this; he had guests that interested me such as The Who, Moody Blues, Janis Joplin, and other excellent bands and musicians that I enjoyed. Along the way, I became a Tom Jones fan, a great thing that not only ties memories to my mother and I watching a program together, but also of the genuine fun I had from watching it for the great content that usually seemed to find its way on the show. From the late ‘60s pop fonts that filled the titles to the bright, florescent colours of the clothing the audiences wore, and to the dances that we saw, now outmoded and chuckled at. This 3DVD video distillation of selected episode segments from that variety show offers a close look at not only Tom Jones and his well-chosen guests, but also a few hours of time travel back to a classic era, a warm time of colour and sound.
There are 8 episodes in this set. Disc one begins with the opener show, which was broadcast on February 7, 1969. In this show, Tom showcased some amazing talent out that included famed comedian, Richard Pryor; actor Peter Sellers – who changed a skit dialogue on the fly – The Moody Blues (singing “Ride My See Saw” and the old-style band placements, always a hoot with drums in front an other musicians surrounding the kit), and an 18-year old Welsh singer, Mary Hopkin, whose classic Apple recording of “Those Were The Days” was doing well. The next episode is presented in B/W because, as Tom introduces (he introduces each episode), they were unable to find the colour version of the show. It is an important one as it has The Who singing “Pinball Wizard” with an animated Keith Moon in the background. Tom also lets it be known, in his introduction to the episode, that Moon became so animated, that he actually fell backward, stabilizing himself with his legs on the kit before keeling off completely. You can’t see it on the performance (at least I didn’t) but it is an interesting note – we all know how Keith was, right?!
In other guest appearances, there are Burt Bacharach, Anne Bancroft, Janis Joplin, Little Richard, The Committee, Ace Trucking Company, Joe Cocker, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklyn, Pat Paulson, and Bob Hope. If Tom didn’t perform skits with them, he sang with them, well, most of them anyway. You’ll also see familiar faces that were not so familiar back then; faces like Fred Willard and Howard Hesseman. You’ll even get a glimpse of the sponsoring splash screen, in this case Pan Am Airlines, who, at the time, was one of the larger airlines alongside TWA. Both are footnotes in airline history now and have been for several decades.
The 3 DVDs are housed in a tri-fold packaging that is slip-cased in a protective cover. A 10-page booklet is included and which details, very well, I might add, the contents of each episode.
This set of shows, including the pilot episode, is the first salvo from Time/Life as they promise to follow-up this set with a more comprehensive collection, likely complete seasons; there were three beginning in 1969 and ending in 1971.
If you remember the fun you had watching Tom Jones sing his songs, and enjoying his excellent array of guests, then you’re a perfect candidate for this set. More so if you enjoy the musical varieties that held thrall on the airwaves during these times (Rock Concert, Midnight Special, Hootenanny, Shindig, American Bandstand, and any of the others that I just don’t remember at the moment).