SameDiff BNL

Jones Proves He Loves The Ladies

By IAN NATHANSON, Ottawa Sun, March 1st, 2000.

It's not unusual for Tom Jones to hook up with other internationally renowned artists for a duet or two.

So how in the name of Kraft Dinner did the Barenaked Ladies wind up warbling a track called Little Green Bag with the Welsh singing superstar?

"When One Week became a huge hit and Stunt had gone gold over there, I think Tom Jones' people must have looked down the list of who was on the charts at that time and said, 'Uh, let's get all these people,' " Ladies lead singer Steven Page says over the phone from Toronto.


"But the remarkable thing to me was the fact that we were the only North Americans on the whole record."

Save for the Toronto-based Barenaked Ladies and Australian singer Natalie Imbruglia, a glance at the guest roster on Jones' new all-covers CD, Re-Load, reads mostly like a who's who of the U.K. music scene: The Pretenders (Lust For Life), Stereophonics (Mama Told Me Not to Come), The Cardigans (Burning Down the House), Robbie Williams (Are You Gonna Go My Way), plus contributions by Portishead, Van Morrison and Simply Red.

Loopy hit

Digging through the song trenches, Jones and the Ladies collaborate on Little Green Bag, a loopy 1970 hit for Dutch group The George Baker Selection. The number might ring a few bells with film buffs — Little Green Bag pops up in Quentin Tarantino's 1992 crime-thirller Reservoir Dogs.

Not quite what Page had in mind.

"I thought Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen was the ultimate song to do with him, with us doing all the big harmonies and stuff," Page says. "That was my suggestion, which sadly got nixed."

"I knew (Little Green Bag) because I had it on a K-Tel Goofy Greats record when I was a kid. And it always stood out for me because it was the one song that didn't sound like a novelty tune to me. It always sounded kind of scary.

"Then when I saw that opening sequence to Reservoir Dogs, I was like, geez, that's exactly what I always imagined for that song."

Working with Jones proved to be a lesson in who's-got-the-louder-voice.

"He'd driven in from London with his entourage to where we were, in Birmingham," Page recalls.

"So he walks in, sings the song about four times and goes (imitating a Welsh accent), 'Ach! My voice is fucked!' 'Cause he was getting some kind of laryngitis or bronchitis.

'Huge pipes'

"But Tom was still amazing. He and I were standing in the control room doing the singing. And what a voice! He still has those huge pipes, blowing me out of the room. And I was thinking, 'how am I gonna keep up with this guy?' I always thought I was loud, but he's REALLY loud."