‘Travelin’ was the last album from Tommy James & The Shondells, a group with ties to the 60’s bubblegum scene, fortunately this is more rock than it is pop.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: Tommy James And The Shondells
LABEL: Roulette Records
SERIAL: SR 42044
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Tommy James – vocals * Eddie Gray – guitars * Ron Rosman – keyboards * Mike Vale – bass * Peter Lucia – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Bloody Water * 02 Red Rover * 03 Candy Maker * 04 She * 05 Talkin’ And Signifyin’ * 06 Travelin’ * 07 Gotta Get Back To You * 08 Early In The Mornin’ * 09 Moses And Me * 10 Kelly Told Anne
WEBLINKS: Site Link
‘Travelin’ was the final album from Tommy James & The Shondells, a group with strong ties to the delightful late 60’s bubblegum scene. You remember ‘Crimson And Clover’ right? No, I’m not taking about the horrific 80’s cover from Joan Jett. Be serious! How about the effervescent ‘Crystal Blue Persuasion’ or the sugary ‘Sweet Cherry Wine’?
The list of hits from James and band is still very impressive although the band were never seen as major contenders in the eyes of the music elite, despite recording one of the best albums of the psychedelic era with ‘Cellophane Symphony’. Yup, no respect and by 1970, James had gone solo releasing his superb self-titled debut later in the year and strangely enough two songs from ‘Travelin’ appeared as b-sides for the singles pulled from that solo.
Despite the odd sequencing favoring rock cuts on both sides while burying the pop style, Tommy James had his greatest success with this album and it knocks my socks off every time I play it. ‘Bloody Water’ opens the festivities sounding an awful lot like early James Gang and good too while ‘Red Rover’ and the brilliant two minute and three second top 40 single – ‘She’ have a more traditional Shondells snappy bubblepop sound.
The bands music has always been light and sun-dappled, but on ‘Travelin’ there’s a dark rock undercurrent making this record one of their more sophisticated and satisfying efforts. Side two’s title track is a typical of the time but still fun self-indulgent instrumental with traces of Grand Funk Railroad.
The albums second and less successful single ‘Gotta Get Back To You’ sounds suspiciously like the Allen Toussaint penned 60’s hit ‘Working In The Coalmine’, but it’s good and catchy enough to give it a pass mark. ‘Moses & Me’ returns to the earlier bubblegum Shondells as does the ballad closer ‘Kelly Told Anne’ rounding out a delicious and near-perfect set of pop songs.
The album was presented in a thick cardboard gatefold sleeve with the inside featuring two photos of the band sporting extremely bad haircuts. It doesn’t appear ‘Travelin’ has seen reissue on CD, but who knows? It’s certainly worthy of reevaluation for those who thought Tommy James & The Shondells were nothing more than a second rate pop band.