[8] Johnny Adams Sings Doc Pomus – The Real Me

31 May

I initially wrote a draft of this blog focusing on the difficulty of classifying music into genres – I was distracted by the wide range of influences heard on this recording, missing the point entirely.

The point being that this recording has set the bar pretty high for the next 992.

How do you put music into this genre or that genre?  What makes one band Rock, another Metal?  Who is to say that this musician a Jazz singer, that artist a Bluesman?  Why are we so preprogrammed to cram everything into its own box?

Which brings us to Johnny Adams Sings Doc Pomus – The Real Me.

The Real Me

The Real Me












When I first hit play, I should have been listening to the deep rich vocals, the professional and comforting arrangements of the band supporting that voice, the masterful piano solos, the human and engaging lyrics.

Instead, my conscious mind kept coming back to the same refrain – “Wait.  This is Blues?”

Tom Moon classes the album as Blues, so that is how I’ll tag this blog post.  There *are* moments of straight ahead 12 bar blues, almost a honytonk sound, if much more cleanly produced.  But many more moments have the energy of old time rock n roll, the virtuosity of jazz, the big band vocal swing of Sinatra or, more recently, Harry Connick Junior.

And the vocals are so undeniably the highlight here that it seems the genre Vocal (which Moon uses elsewhere in the 1000) was coined for Johnny Adams on this recording of Doc Pomus originals.

I hop over to Wikipedia, and for a change it doesn’t help very much.  The crowdsourced wisdom describes Adams as a ” blues, jazz and gospel singer” . . .

Things are made clear, or at least clearer, when peeking at Doc Pomus’ entry.  Pomus, who wrote all of the beautifully crafted songs on this album, is unequivicably listed as a “blues singer songwriter”.

Although to confuse things further, many of his best known songs are classic Rock ‘n’ Roll hits.

For our purposes, this is the Blues because the songwriter wrote them as such.  The fact that they are reimagined here by a wonderfully talented band – led by a singer whose voice welcomes you into his world, feeling the lyrics, sharing of himself – means we are treated to a set of songs that defy classification.

At the end of the day though, whatever you call it, I could listen to this voice, these songs all day long.  In fact, I have done exactly that a few times in the week alloted to Johnny singing Doc.

Glancing through Doc’s catalog, I note that Bruce Willis must have been a fan – he covered a couple of Pomus originals (“Save The Last Dance For Me” and “Young Blood” – copenned with Leiber and Stoller) on his two sometimes cheesy but always fun (and surprisingly accomplished) albums.

The cuts on The Real Me are not ones that I’ve heard before, written as they were for Adams, but are all well crafted gems – you can feel the mind that came up with songs like “Teenager In Love” and “Sweets For My Sweet” – while Adams brings a depth, a grounding that is missing from those classic, if lightweight, recordings.

Johnny Adams is the first artist, early on in this undertaking, that I will be seeking out the additional “Catalog Choice” suggested by Moon – A Room with a View of the Blues – to hear more of his cultured and nuanced voice.  I don’t expect that Room . . . will be the last Adams album I pick up.

I might even check out some more Doc Pomus while I’m at it.

Owned before blogging?  No.  (1 of 8.  13%)
Heard before blogging?   No.  (2 of 8.  25%)
Recommend?                     Yes. (5 of 8.  63%)

Next Week: Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker

2 Responses to “[8] Johnny Adams Sings Doc Pomus – The Real Me”

  1. nycavri December 11, 2014 at 8:39 AM #

    Reblogged this on . . . To Hear Before I Blog and commented:

    Throughout December I am going to revisit the first months of this journey, taking time at the end of this year to remember where I’ve been and what I’ve heard.


  1. [105] Bobby “Blue” Bland – Two Steps From The Blues | . . . To Hear Before I Blog - April 10, 2015

    […] It is not comprised of catchy, memorable story songs such as those written by Doc Pomus and performed by Johnny Adams. […]

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