Tommy James and the Shondells were one of the most consistent hit making groups of the 60’s, with iconic songs like “Hanky Panky”, “Mony Mony”, “Crimson and Clover” and “I Think We’re Alone Now” peppering the charts in rapid succession. One would think that the story of their rise to success in that turbulent decade would be a fascinating recollection; a gratuitous name-dropping inside look at the greatest era of pop music and the whirlwind machinery that keeps the whole thing afloat.
Instead, Me, The Mob and The Music is a quick, anecdotal biography that more often skips across those topics like a stone on a pond rather than giving the deep dive that the title implies. And like many celebrity biographies, the beginning stages of a career get a bit more focus than necessary, since the reader is fully aware that the gamble is going to pay off for the struggling beginner.
The story behind The Shondells is interesting enough, showing how pure luck can catapult an artist from obscurity to a chance at fame. In James’ case, a hastily pirated version of a bar band song failed more than once before exploding in Pittsburgh, providing a launching pad that would see the band and song break region by region until success was attained. Ironically, to satisfy those thousands of radio listeners in Pittsburgh, the record was widely pirated and James never saw a dime of the profits. It would be the first taste in a long career of financial infidelity…
Read my full review in Blurt Online.