Feb 05

TOM JONES – “It’s Not Unusual”

Popular13 comments • 3,061 views

#189, 13th March 1965

Tom Jones is clearly well-meaning, approaches his music with unyielding gusto, and has surely done wonders for the gaiety of the nation. But frankly I can’t stand him. A comical background figure in the way that national treasures often are, I didn’t notice him much until his various bellowing comebacks in the mid-90s. Well, I thought, his early stuff was probably alright. I’m still open to persuasion, but the evidence so far isn’t swaying me.

The best Tom Jones song is probably “What’s New, Pussycat?”, which uses his brashness to maximum effect, matches it with a steamroller arrangement and is also happily, entirely ridiculous. I still don’t enjoy it much but I can see what it’s doing. “It’s Not Unusual” has just as much muscle but aside from the closing yelps Jones’ delivery is a one-note bludgeon. Has anyone ever sounded happier singing about wanting to die?

Alright, I admit it, he’s a charismatic bastard and I can only really really dislike him if I work hard at it. And yes, his voice is a powerful thing even if used for ill. But I still come away from his records feeling like I have spit all over my face.



  1. 1
    Joe Williams on 31 Aug 2005 #

    Nah, this is a great record, though probably the only decent thing he’s ever done. Well ‘Kiss’ and ‘Delilah’ were OK I suppose.

  2. 2
    Lena on 14 Oct 2006 #

    In the 90s when he had his revival I didn’t like him – and all his songs are like the signifiers of things instead of being the things in & of themselves. So the only place he makes sense is Las Vegas, more or less…

    …and so it makes sense that this was used for a Coke or Pepsi radio ad at the time, because it’s loud and brassy and in-your-face commercial already…

  3. 3
    wichitalineman on 12 May 2008 #

    Total agreement about the spit-on-face line! Sweaty in a nylon shirt way, I come over all synasthetic when I hear his voice and can smell a clammy, Beefeater-like restaurant circa mid 70s. Horrible. The overwrought ballads work better because they are SO extreme (the weird grunts and squeaks on I’ll Never Fall In Love Again are actually closer to Prince than that sledgehammer cover of Kiss) but his uptempo stuff is unbearably pleased with itself.

    So many comebacks telling us he was ‘cool’ and finally the public were bludgeoned into believing it – now I’m in the minority.

  4. 4
    DJ Punctum on 12 May 2008 #

    Wish I could agree with you about “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” but I’m afraid to me it still sounds like Freddie Starr trying to impersonate Solomon Burke.

    As Dale reminded us yesterday (May 1987 – what a godawful chart) Tom’s first actual comeback hit following “Kiss” on The Last Resort was the ultra-naff “A Boy From Nowhere” from the unmourned musical Matador.

  5. 5
    Laban on 6 Jan 2009 #

    The boys don’t know but the old men understand. Love the horns, the whole thing swings, great production delivered with gusto, easily his best (along with ‘Thunderball’, but that’s deliberately OTT as all good Bond themes are).

    (First heard on the waltzers at the fair, aged 11, a perfect place to hear it)

  6. 6
    Tooncgull on 25 Sep 2009 #

    Naaah – sorry – Cant stand TJ either. All that Big Voice Bellowing, whether in the 60s tousle-haired pub-singer era, or the 90s-2000s orange faced Mr Potato-head years. This may be a standard, but its cabaret schlock.

    I’d give it a 1 for popularity.

  7. 7
    Billy Smart on 2 Jan 2011 #

    TOTPWatch: Tom Jones performed ‘It’s Not Unusual’ on Top Of The Pops on four occasions;

    11 February 1965. Also in the studio that week were; The Hollies, Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders, The Ivy League, Hermans Hermits, and The Seekers. Alan Freeman was the host.

    25 February 1965. Also in the studio that week were; Hermans Hermits, Kathy Kirby, Marianne faithful, The Hollies, The Ivy League, The Pretty Things, The Shadows and Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders. Pete Murray was the host.

    11 March 1965. Also in the studio that week were; Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Marianne Faithful, The Rolling Stones, The Searchers and The Who. David Jacobs was the host.

    18 June 1987. Also in the studio that week were; Samantha Fox, ABC and Curiosity Killed The Cat. Simon Mayo and Janice Long were the hosts.

    Only the 1987 edition survives.

  8. 8
    hectorthebat on 8 Apr 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Spin (USA) – The 100 Greatest Singles of All Time (1989) 67
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (
    Les Inrockuptibles (France) – 1000 Indispensable Songs (2006)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

  9. 9
    lonepilgrim on 23 Jul 2015 #

    I quite like this as a piece of theatrical performance. The band swings and Tom belts out the tune with gusto. There’s a bizarre promo clip featuring him sporting what looks like a very early mullet and miming the song while wandering through a zoo with go-go dancers in cages alongside goats and camels. You can see it here: https://youtu.be/KidxZ07YxQs

  10. 10
    AnotherPete on 23 Jul 2015 #

    #9 Yet the strangest thing of all about that clip is his cockney accent

  11. 12
    enitharmon on 16 Apr 2019 #

    It’s goodbye Les Reed, co-writer of this song with Gordon Mills who left the building more than 30 years ago. He also plays piano here.

    Les gets a couple of other co-writing credits (with Barry Mason) later on but I’m going to gloss over those. This song is a classic though, and a fine monument to him.

  12. 13
    Gareth Parker on 16 May 2021 #

    I’d be much more generous than Tom (Ewing) here. In my opinion Tom (Jones) deserves an 8/10 for this classic single.

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