Friday, February 21, 2014

Book Review: Me, the Mob and The Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James and the Shondells

From the way I see things, books are a major part of life and reading is essential, but it is music that finds itself right behind faith and family. I have a deep emotional attachment to music, but I am particularly fond of anything from the late 1960's through the 1970's. I came across the biography of Tommy James in a roundabout way, but once it found its way into my hands I was happily surprised.

Most music bios are 1) dreadfully boring, because you realize early on you have read all of this or heard all of this somewhere before or 2) you quickly realize this bio is giving you so much useless information you wish you hadn't picked it up. Most music bios aren't even near low honesty levels, so you may as well just stick with listening to the music of the artist at hand.  

Me, The Mob and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James and the Shondells is a perfect companion if you want to sit back and learn a bit about the music industry during a certain time and place of history.

The music of Tommy James is fun. You won't hear political droning and you won't get all sorts of dysfunctional relationship nonsense. James remains to this day one of the masters of classic pop/rock music.

I love his material. He made me then and he makes me now actually feel good about "stuff." His music doesn't just take one back to another era, but he literally makes you feel good. Seriously feel good. How can a normal, rationale human being listen to Mony Mony, I Think We're Alone Now, Crystal Blue Persuasion, Draggin' the Line and a whole host of other top twenty hits and not feel like jumping into a pool during the month of March or jumping a rope that you hadn't even looked at in 30 years.

The book is riddled with all kinds of stories that you most likely never heard before. I know a great deal about the entertainment industry and I can honestly say I know a lot of stupid stuff about these people and yet I never knew that Roulette Records (the label that gave the world all of those jaunty, bouncy hits by James) was basically run by a New York mob family. I didn't realize that my Crimson and Clover deliverer even hailed from the mighty Midwest. Where the heck was I? I have the nerve to tell people I can beat almost anyone at those wacky show biz trivia games. Well, actually, I've met a few odd ducks who even know more useless information than I do.

Do yourself a favor and read this book. Whether you like Tommy James or not or whether you even who know he is - read this book. By the way, just pull out the YouTube versions of Hanky Panky, Mony Mony, Draggin' the Line or I Think We're Alone now to a 23 year old and then they'll know who Tommy James is.  I did this at the gym I workout at. My 23 year old trainer and her 21 year old co-trainer didn't know him by name, so I pulled up these songs and yippee cow tuna they both knew all of those songs.

A great read by an intensely interesting guy who happens to be interesting without being an out and out weirdo.

James wrote this book with Martin Fitzpatrick, but it is told in such a first person narrative that I'm convinced James must have been talking his story directly into a recording device and then it was all transcribed. Absolutely fantastic read.

Buy this book! You can purchase the book at or at your local bookstore. Support the brick and mortar venues before they all go away and our culture takes one more significant nosedive. New idea - go to the library before all of the books are stolen. Yes, another new phenom happening in our less than honest world.

"My dog Sam eats purple flowers..."   

Copyright Read On Read Now 2014