B.J. Thomas first reached the U.S. top 10 in 1966 with a heartfelt cover of his father's favorite Hank Williams song, the plaintive ballad "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." The Oklahoma-born, Texas-raised artist had his sights beyond just the country genre, however. His always authentic and altogether compelling voice was equally at home in the genres of pop, R&B, rock and roll, contemporary Christian, bossa nova, and gospel. He became a songwriter's singer, bringing to vivid life the music and words of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Mark James, Mark Charron, Chips Moman and Larry Butler, and countless others.
When Thomas passed away of cancer at the age of 78 on May 29, 2021, he left behind an extraordinary catalogue of classics including such all-time favorites as "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," "Hooked on a Feeling," and "I Just Can't Help Believin'." But there was yet more music to be heard. Tomorrow, February 4, Real Gone Music will celebrate Thomas' legacy of song with In Remembrance: Love Songs and Lost Treasures. This new, 18-track collection features a whopping 13 previously unreleased tracks both from Thomas' personal archive and the vaults of Warner/Reprise.
In Remembrance presents a treasure trove of material recorded by Thomas between 1992 and 2007 for a variety of projects. B.J. joined the Warner/Reprise family of labels in 1989 following a successful 1982-1986 tenure with CBS/Columbia during which time he released country, gospel, and holiday albums. At Warner/Reprise, he returned to straight-ahead pop with Midnight Minute and Back Against the Wall before recording two powerful collections of inspirational music and one set of Christmas tunes. In Remembrance premieres eight never-before-heard tracks from the Warner vaults, including tracks cut with producers Jim Ed Norman, Stewart Harris, and Steve Dorff. Among these are the Norman-produced recording of Bob Ferguson's "Wings of a Dove," an impeccable addition to Thomas' beloved discography of country and gospel music, and "Think About Me," one of fewer than two dozen compositions authored by B.J. in his lifetime.
Veteran songwriter-producer Dorff (co-writer of B.J.'s hit theme for the sitcom Growing Pains, "As Long As We've Got Each Other") was also represented on the nearly impossible-to-find direct response album Back Forward, released in the mid-1990s. In Remembrance draws on that release to present Dorff's moving "Expression of Faith" as well as renditions of Steve Carbo's "This Ain't a Song (It's a Prayer)" and B.J.'s self-penned, drawn-from-life "Hands on Me Again." A stirring reading of "America the Beautiful" conveys the artist's deep connection to his country.
Thomas and Dorff teamed once again for writer-director Jeff Santo's 1998 independent film Jake's Corner. In only his second film role, B.J. portrayed the saloon singer and Vietnam veteran known as Doc alongside a cast including Richard Tyson, Danny Trejo, and Diane Ladd. Steve's son Andrew Dorff was the drama's music supervisor while Steve composed the instrumental score and oversaw the production of five songs sung by B.J. in the movie. All five of those, including "I Like Livin'," "The Best Things in Life," and a touching new recording of B.J.'s Mann and Weil-penned 1972 chart-topper "Rock and Roll Lullaby," make their first appearance here outside of a private-press soundtrack which never saw wide commercial release.
Everything on In Remembrance: Love Songs and Lost Treasures has been newly mastered by Ted Carfrae, while John Sellards has designed the artwork and booklet which features numerous rare photos as well as an introduction by Thomas' wife of more than half a century, Gloria Thomas. TSD's own Joe Marchese has written the liner notes drawing on an unpublished interview with B.J. as well as quotes from Steve Dorff and Jim Ed Norman. Look for this tribute to one of America's all-time great vocalists tomorrow, February 4, from Real Gone Music. You'll find pre-order links and the track listing below!
- Expression of Faith
- Meet at My Heart
- I Like Livin'
- When the Hero Dies
- The Best Things in Life
- Rock and Roll Lullaby
- Hands on Me Again
- This Ain't a Song (It's a Prayer)
- Think About Me
- No One Else on Earth
- Our Younger Hearts
- That's the Thing About Love
- Red Letter Days
- When a Woman Talks
- Love by Any Name
- Memory in the Making
- Wings of a Dove
- America the Beautiful
Tracks 1, 7-8, 18 from Back Forward, no cat. no. or label, c. mid-1990s
Track 13 from Red Letter Days, Silver City Records SCR-9160, 1993
All other tracks previously unreleased; Tracks 2-6 from Jake's Corner (film), 1998