TOMMY JAMES & THE SHONDELLS Crimson & Clover (1969) & Cellophane Symphony (1969)

Crimson & Clover (1969)
Cellophane Symphony (1969)
Not Your Father’s Shondells

I’ve always loved psychedelic albums by artists that aren’t known for their work in the field. Sometimes, they laughably contain all of the clichés that helped to kill the genre in the first place. Other times, they are hidden treasures by bands that knew full well what they were doing… even if their audience didn’t. Tommy James & The Shondells are among the latter. TJ didn’t invent psych-pop, but he certainly epitomized the style with “Crimson & Clover,” as sure a hit song if ever one was written, regardless of the generation. And, as it was the norm to have a similar follow-up in your back pocket, “Crystal Blue Persuasion” proved James (who co-wrote all but one) had studied, compositional chops. The song’s sweet, soulful/pop sound may even have helped shaped Prince’s musical make-up as much as James Brown and Jimi Hendrix (P covered TJ just a few years back). Still, there are moments on these two 1969 albums that you begin to completely forget who you’re listening to. By Cellophane Symphony, the band is replicating a 10 minute super jam between Pink Floyd and Deep Purple (with a hint of Duane Eddy)… for the lead off track. The group’s live-in-the-studio ambiance is smartly captured and is, more importantly, organically realized by a veteran band with a big bag of tricks. Think of these two albums as one big psychedelic double album (that would’ve made a better single album) and you’ll hear how it all fits in with the times. From 2009 source material, find a two-fer of Crimson & Clover and Cellophane Smyphony at Amazon, HERE.

Crimson & Clover
Crimson & Clover (5:32)
Kathleen McArther (2:41)
I Am A Tangerine (3:34)
Do Something To Me (3:19)
Crystal Blue Persuasion (4:01)
Sugar On Sunday (3:22)
Breakaway (2:45)
Smokey Roads (2:50)
I’m Alive (3:14)
Crimson & Clover (Reprise) (1:00)

Cellophane Symphony
Cellophane Symphony (9:38)
Makin‘ Good Time (2:37)
Evergreen (2:07)
Sweet Cherry Wine (4:20)
Papa Rolled His Own (1:47)
Changes (5:36)
Loved One (3:41)
I Know Who I Am (3:53)
The Love Of A Woman (4:28)
On Behalf Of The Entire Staff & Management (3:57)


  • 1
    Capt. Willard
    October 30, 2010 - 18:18 | Permalink

    Search HERE.

  • 2
    November 13, 2011 - 22:38 | Permalink

    Dear Willard,

    One again I have spent some wonderful time today drifting through your archives

    and before I leave to sleep I just had to say thank you once more..

    Pat DiNizio, Searchers, Rod Stewart, Petty, many more and now trippin with

    TJ & The Shondells .I wish there was some way to repay you for all the effort.

    A little sugar on sunday perhaps?


    • 3
      November 14, 2011 - 08:33 | Permalink

      Thanks Jay.

  • 4
    Susan Neal
    December 25, 2013 - 13:16 | Permalink

    I have a friend, Chuck Chapman, formerly from Indiana, who says he sang with Tommy James and the Shondell’s in his band. But never said when that was. Probably ’60’s-70’s. We can’t find any information on that.
    Is that true?

    • 5
      December 25, 2013 - 21:30 | Permalink

      No clue. But, Google should know.

  • 6
    May 18, 2015 - 11:13 | Permalink

    Hey, Capt. Willard, thanks so much for this. I know the hits, of course, but have never actually listened to an entire LP by the band, so I’m quite interested to give these a listen. By the way, thought you might get a kick out of what is basically a local folk legend: Years ago, I had a good pal who worked at a music store here in Pennsylvania. The owner kept on display several interesting instruments that had come into his possession. Included in the collection was a beat-up old Ampeg amp with an interesting story. The owner of the store had been driving down the Pa. turnpike late one night after a snowstorm when he spotted an overturned truck. The truck hit a slick spot, ran off the road, and capsized. The guy saw people milling around the wreck and stopped to see if everyone was OK. As he approached, he noticed that the guys were taking stuff out of the back of the vehicle and pitching it farther down the hill. He came to find out that the vehicle was the Shondell’s equipment truck. Their quick-thinking manager had recognized an opportunity to score the band some new equipment. They’d just tell the insurance folks that the trailer had opened and all the gear inside had been spilled across the hillside! Finding out that the guy who’d stopped was a musician, they told him that if he wanted anything, take it. He chose the Ampeg amp. Supposedly, one of the guys in the crew chuckled and told him that he’d made a good choice: the amp had a tremolo function on it and had been mic’ed and utilized as the famous special effect on “Crimson and Clover.” Bogus story? Who knows. But the guy swore it was true.

    • 7
      May 18, 2015 - 11:27 | Permalink

      Great story… and ballsy. If the insurance company didn’t come through, however (as they often don’t), it would’ve been fun to hear the manager explain to the band why he gave all their equipment away in the middle of the night… without it sounding like he had a massive drug problem.

  • 8
    Tommy James
    May 18, 2015 - 11:39 | Permalink

    Hey, man– I want my amp back!

    • 9
      May 27, 2015 - 13:15 | Permalink

      Hey, brother, I had nothin’ to do with it! ;-) I have to say, though, as a guy with an interest in studio recording, it sure would be interesting to know if you remember whether or not the iconic trem effect for the “Crimson and Clover” vocal refrain was created with the help of an Ampeg amp. Inquiring Wormhole denizens want to know.

  • 10
    May 18, 2015 - 15:09 | Permalink

    I have fond memories of purchasing Cellophane Symphony @ Woolworth’s back in the day….

    • 11
      May 18, 2015 - 17:56 | Permalink

      Aaahh Woolworth’s. Back before real record stores in middle & southern America.

  • 12
    May 18, 2015 - 17:19 | Permalink

    Sugar on Sunday has been one of my fave unknown tracks for decades. Like Ball of Fire, a great lost single.

  • 13
    May 19, 2015 - 02:14 | Permalink

    Thanks so much, Will…as I listened to Cellophane, I kept thinking about how it sounds like an american “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, long psych instro and all. One of the sub-genres I collect is psych music that does not use synths (usually confined to the ’60’s, but that’s OK, and there are some exceptions I like, i.e. Eno, Beatles, etc), this one fits the bill nicely…

    • 14
      May 20, 2015 - 01:06 | Permalink

      I have to correct myself re: the synth use on Cellophane Symphony, I did locate it’s use on “Changes”, but it’s an acceptable exception. This is a classy album by a group that succeeded in transcending pop. And I say it’s like an american “Piper” with the operative word being “american”;different cultures begat different approaches. Thanks for letting me go on…

  • 15
    May 19, 2015 - 12:43 | Permalink

    This sent me to my vinyl shelves and yes, there it was – a cutout copy of Cellophane Symphony. Bought from Kasettimestarit (that’s finnish for Cassettemasters) for 4 marks sometime in the 80’s here in Finland. It has two 50 c price tags – the other says R.K. and the other Dept. Two Guys. This record has done some hard traveling… Nice to have an electronic copy. Thank you!

  • 16
    May 22, 2015 - 18:20 | Permalink

    Thank you very much. Was always fascinated by “Crimson & Clover,” so unique and infectious. Can still visualize the plastic CD case, the full plastic version rather than the usual transparent plastic type.

    And helluva cool story, Timbo, whether completely true or not!

  • 17
    May 27, 2015 - 13:06 | Permalink

    Right, Formosa! Knowing the source, I’m inclined to believe it’s true, but certainly one of those tales that is is pretty hard to verify. In any case, it immediately came to mind when I saw the post and thought folks might enjoy it, if only for entertainment value. An interesting morsel of rock ‘n’ roll folklore– if not a suburban legend! Cheers!

  • 18
    Don from Oregon
    May 31, 2015 - 23:41 | Permalink

    I always liked “Cellophane Symphony”. “Travelin” was prett good as well.
    Thanks Willard!