Tom Jones has consistently reinvented himself. His “country period” was particularly abysmal, but after his first manager died and Jones' son, Mark Woodward, replaced him, he began to flirt with contemporary music. Jones has always covered and interpreted other people's songs, but he had a late career breakthrough, primarily in Britain, when he recorded Prince's Kiss with the sychn-pop group Art Of Noise.
To be fair, Jones never stopped being a star in Britain but many young musicians, no doubt immersed in his liquid honey baritone pouring from their mother's radio as they played at mom's feet, recognized Jones as the sort of iconic legend they would love to give back to or share their love of music with. Jones subsequently put out Reload in 1999, a set of duet covers with diverse and eclectic rockers backing him (The Cardigans, Stereophonics, The Pretenders, Portishead, Barenaked Ladies, Van Morrison and so forth). And in 2004 Jones put out a terrific jump-blues record with piano virtuoso and ex-Squeeze stalwart Jools Holland.
What to Recommend Then?
I find it hard, though, to recommend any particular album from Tom Jones extensive 45 year library. I didn't care for much of anything found in the first 35, but if you are intrigued by his Spirit in the Room you can follow up with Praise and Blame, Reload, or—my pick—Tom Jones & Jools Holland.
However, for those with deep pockets and a completist fetish there is 2003's perverse gift, the Christmas release, The Definitive Tom Jones 1964-2002 [Box Set]. This is a 4-disc career-spanning retrospective. I wouldn't try digesting this all in one go though. On the plus side, this is the only place you can find his definitive cover of the Rolling Stones tune “Gimme Shelter,” Jones charging in—full howl—with post-punkers New Model Army in hot pursuit.
And it don't get much better than this:
Check out our review of his Spirit in the Room.