"The Eyes of an Only Child" by Tom Jans was released in 1975. I loved that record and used to play it a lot, along with his eponymous debut LP on A&M, featuring his best known song, “Lovin’ Arms,” recorded by Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge, Dobie Gray, Frank Sinatra, Elvis and many others. I still have those two on vinyl, so I retrieved them, album covers, sleeves and all.
Jans was a songwriter and performer of some standing in the 1970s, a “folk” singer strumming an acoustic guitar, but he also played keyboards, plugged in and toured with a backup band. He was born in 1948. He was from California and had majored in English Literature at UC-Davis (graduating Phi Beta Kappa) before playing clubs in San Francisco and being discovered by Joan Baez and her sister Mimi Farina.
He and Farina toured for a year as a duo, opening for Cat Stevens and James Taylor. They made an album for A&M before he went his own way with the self-titled disc for A&M, recorded in Nashville, followed by The Eyes of an Only Child, produced in part by Little Feat’s Lowell George, with backing by marquee talent like Fred Tackett, David Lindley, Billy Payne, Jeff Porcaro, Herb Peterson, Valerie Carter and Jim Keltner.
Jans was so versatile, and that might have been an obstacle in the biz at the time — not sounding the same on each cut. He could write a tender standard like “Lovin’ Arms” and an uptempo two-step like “Out of Hand” that honky tonk hero Gary Stewart (more royalty) made into a #4 country hit. Other keepers include “Gotta Move,” “Struggle in Darkness,” and “Green River.” Somebody should be playing these on the radio.
by Sean Mitchell, January 31, 2021
1. Gotta Move (Tom Jans, Lowell George) - 4:15
2. Once Before I Die - 3:15
3. Where Did All My Good Friends Go? - 4:50
4. Inside Of You - 3:05
5. Struggle In Darkness - 5:40
6. Out Of Hand (Tom Jans, Jeff Barry) - 3:15
7. The Lonesome Way Back When - 4:20
8. Lonely Brother - 5:45
9. Directions And Connections - 4:35
10.The Eyes Of An Only Child - 3:35
All compositions by Tom Jans except where stated
*Tom Jans - Electric, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Piano
*Colin Cameron - Bass
*Valerie Carter - Vocals
*Sam Clayton - Congas
*Jesse Ed Davis - Guitar
*Lowell George - Guitar
*Lovely Hardy - Vocals
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*David Lindley - Electric Guitar
*Harvey Mason, Sr. - Drums
*Jerry McGee - Electric Guitar
*Bill Payne - Piano, Moog
*Herb Pedersen - Vocals
*Jeff Porcaro - Drums
*Chuck Rainey - Bass
*Fred Tackett - Guitars
*Mike Utley - Organ