It's Not Unusual
|"It's Not Unusual"|
|Single by Tom Jones|
|from the album Along Came Jones (It's Not Unusual)|
|B-side||"To Wait for Love" (Bacharach-David)|
|Released||January 1965 (UK)
March 1965 (US)
|Recorded||11 November 1964, Decca Studios, West Hampstead|
|Tom Jones singles chronology|
"It's Not Unusual" is a song written by Les Reed and Gordon Mills, first recorded by a then-unknown Tom Jones, after having first been offered to Sandie Shaw. Jones recorded what was intended to be a demo for Shaw, but when she heard it she was so impressed with Jones's delivery that she declined the song and recommended that Jones release it himself. The record was the second Decca single Jones released, reaching number one in the UK Singles Chart in 1965. It was also the first hit for Jones in the US, peaking at No. 10 in May of that year. The single was released in the US on the Parrot label and also reached number 3 on Billboard's easy listening chart. The BBC initially refused to play the song because of Jones’s sexy image, but it was played by UK pirate radio. Jones performed the song several times on The Ed Sullivan Show in the US, first on 2 May 1965, then again on 13 June 1965. He sang the song again on the show when he returned on 21 April 1968.
The first studio version of the song was subsequently released in 1995 as part of the compilation album The Legendary Tom Jones - 30th Anniversary Album.
Musical arrangement and recording
The song's musical arranger was Les Reed. Although the guitar has been cited as having been provided by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Reed has stated that the only guitarist was Joe Moretti, who is known for his playing on "Shakin' All Over" and "Brand New Cadillac". Page does list the session in his online discography, however. Drums were played by Scottish percussionist Andy White, who had previously drummed for The Beatles. or possibly by or Ronnie Verrell, although a claim has also been made by Alan Grahame.
Jones's group "Tom Jones and the Squires" were missing their regular keyboard player for the session. Drummer Chris Slade ran across the street to the La Giaconda coffee house, and recruited the then-unknown Reginald Dwight (later to adopt the stage name Elton John) for the one-day recording session.
As was standard practice in the 1960s, session musicians were used instead of Jones's regular backing band. There are conflicting reports about who actually played on the record, but the most likely candidates are:
- Tom Jones – vocals
- Joe Moretti – lead guitar
- Vic Flick - guitar
- Andy White or Ronnie Verrell - drums
- Stan Barrett – percussion
- Kenny Salmon – organ
- Eric Ford – bass
- John Carter and Ken Lewis – backing vocals
- Stan Roderick, Kenny Baker, Bert Ezzard, and Ray Davies or Eddie Blair – trumpets
- Ronnie Ross, Bob Efford – tenor sax
- Harry Klein – baritone sax
- The Impressions recorded a version in 1965.
- The Dells also recorded a version in 1965 and released it as the title track of an LP on Vee-Jay records in Chicago. It was released as the B-side to their original recording of Stay in My Corner.
- Glen Campbell recorded the song on his 1965 album The Big Bad Rock Guitar of Glen Campbell.
- In 1966, South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela included the song to his album Hugh Masekela's Next Album.
- The Supremes recorded a version of this song for their Supremes A' Go-Go album, but was not included. It was recently released on a collection of Supremes' previously unreleased recordings and rarities.
- Florence Ballard (of The Supremes and featured on their version) recorded a version of this song in 1968 for her debut solo album, You Don't Have To, that was shelved by ABC Records and left unreleased until the release of The Supreme Florence Ballard CD.
- Italian rock singer Little Tony performed a local version with the title "Non è normale " ("It's not usual") [sic].
- American alternative band Wild Colonials covered the song, which appeared on their album Reel Life vol 1 (2000) and on the soundtrack of the Ellen DeGeneres film Mr. Wrong.
- Those Darn Accordions recorded an all-accordion instrumental version for their 1992 album Vongole Fisarmonica.
- Five Iron Frenzy covered this song on their live album Five Iron Frenzy LIVE: Proof That the Youth Are Revolting, and later released a studio recorded version on their album All the Hype That Money Can Buy.
- Cher recorded a version of the song on her 1966 record, The Sonny Side of Cher.
- Filipino singer Nora Aunor on her album, More, more, more of Nora Aunor
- Writer Les Reed and his orchestra also recorded an instrumental version on their 1971 record, Colour Me.
- Filipino singer/artist Sam Sorono (1950–2008) covered this song on his 1978 Sings Tom Jones' Greatest Hits LP album with EMI Records.
- The Wedding Present recorded a version included on the UK remastered re-release of their 1989 album, Bizarro.
- Czech pop singer Pavel Novak performed a local version with the title "Jeden tyden " ("It's not usual")
- The song was sung in the Glee episode, "The Purple Piano Project", by Darren Criss character, Blaine Anderson.
- The alternative rock band Belly covered the song on the 1994 soundtrack of the movie With Honors.
- Los Bravos recorded a cover in 1966. On the A-side of the single the B-side was No Se Mi Nombre.
References in popular culture
The song enjoyed a resurgence in the mid-1990s, as it was used in the hit sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on several occasions. It typically features Carlton Banks, one of the lead characters, lip-synching to the lyrics and performing comedic choreography. Jones had guest-starred on the show on a few occasions, also performing and dancing alongside Banks in the episodes.
On The Simpsons episode "Marge Gets a Job", Jones guest stars as himself and performs the song for Marge and Homer at the end of the episode. It was also featured in the episode "The War of the Simpsons".
The song also featured in Will & Grace in the episode "The Honeymoon's Over", with Karen Walker, a lead character, loudly sings along over her headphones. Karen is then found passed out on the couch with the song still on repeat, to which Grace claims: 'Well, this is unusual'. The song is also featured in the 1996 movie Mars Attacks!, in which Jones has a cameo role as himself.
Comedian John Mulaney references the song in his bit "The Salt and Pepper Diner", from his stand-up special entitled "The Top Part".
- Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 89. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
- Time Inc (18 September 1970). LIFE. Time Inc. pp. 54–. ISSN 0024-3019.
- Ray Broadus Browne; Pat Browne (2001). The Guide to United States Popular Culture. Popular Press. pp. 448–. ISBN 978-0-87972-821-2.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 175. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Colin Larkin (27 May 2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Omnibus Press. pp. 488–. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
- "Tom Jones - Ed Sullivan Show". Edsullivan.com. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
- "Sessions". JimmyPage.com. Retrieved 2016-09-29.
- "Scots percussionist paid fiver for playing drums on Beatles' debut single Love Me Do". Dailyrecord.co.uk. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
- Thompson 2008.
- "BBC - Session musician tells of working with Tom Jones". News.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
- Slade, Chris. "Drummer". AC/DC Drummer Chris Slade - His Career. HauntedSaloon. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
- 'Song of the Week #109 - "It's Not Unusual"' Classic Pop Icons. June 4, 2012
- Mark Ribowsky (2010). The Supremes: A Saga of Motown Dreams, Success, and Betrayal. Da Capo Press. pp. 329–. ISBN 0-306-81873-6.
- Mark Bego (15 July 2004). Cher: If You Believe. Taylor Trade Publishing. pp. 292–. ISBN 978-1-4616-2592-6.
- Thompson, Gordon (2008). Please Please Me: Sixties British Pop, Inside Out. OUP USA. ISBN 978-0195333251.
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