Jim Croce’s Benchmark You Don’t Mess Around With Jim Album Sees a 50th Anniversary Limited-Edition 180g LP Release on November 25

BMG isn’t messing around with this one — and neither are we. To wit: The late, great singer/songwriter Jim Croce’s benchmark April 1972 album You Don’t Mess Around With Jim is getting properly feted with a 50th anniversary 180g 1LP release on November 25.

You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, Croce’s third studio album, was initially released on ABC Records in the U.S. (and Vertigo in the UK), and this 50th anniversary edition from BMG will also appear on CD and, yes, even cassette, complete with matching alternate gold-bordered cover artwork. The You Don’t Mess Around With Jim LP retails for $28.99. (Purchase link below, above the tracklisting.)

You can see the full LP cover above, as well as get a peek at the gold LP inside — and for those tapeheads amongst us, I’m also sharing the cassette artwork below. (Me, I’d never play that tape, though I might consider getting it, if only for the collectability factor.)

 1011.apnews.jimcroce.You Don't Mess Around With Jim.cassette.jpg

The Jim stats are these — produced by Terry Cashman and Tommy West and featuring intuitive guitar interplay between Croce and Maury Muehleisen, You Don’t Mess Around With Jim catapulted Croce into the public consciousness, and spent 93 weeks on the charts. Indelible tracks like “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim,” “Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels),” “Time In A Bottle,” and “Photographs And Memories” have all since become staples of the contemporary folk canon. The album posthumously went to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, following Croce’s untimely passing in an airplane crash in September 1973. The album has since been certified Gold, which signifies 500.000 copies sold — though I bet it’s certainly closer to Platinum status (i.e., 1 million copies sold) by now.

I’ve been told this release will lead into further Croce-related celebrations and releases in 2023, as both BMG and the Croce estate will continue to commemorate 50 years since the artist’s untimely passing, along with what would have been his 80th birthday year.

I have also asked the label to confirm the pressing plant, what sources were used, and who cut the lacquers for Jim, and I will update this story as soon as any/all of that information is confirmed. [Update No. 1, 10.12.2022: The Jim LPs are being pressed at Vinyl Tech in Ontario.]

Rather than waiting on those confirmations, however, I wanted to post the release news for Jim tonight, because I think many of us could certainly do with a fresh copy of this historic LP, no? I do happen to have an early 1972 ABC Records pressing that is virtually unplayable at this point — hence, it is actually being maintained in an offsite storage locale rather than residing in my home collection at present. I’ve heard conflicting reports about the value (or lack thereof) of subsequent ABC pressings as well as the Vertigo, Dunhill, and Lifesong offerings — not to mention the 1976 ABC Command Quad version and the 1982 Mobile Fidelity OMR edition, the latter of which has garnered more praise than not.

Which pressing — or pressings — of Jim do you happen to have, and how good is it / are they? Will you buy this 2022 LP release either way? Chime in with your thoughts and learned opinions in the Comments section below, following the tracklisting data.

Music Direct Buy It Now

 1011.apnews.jimcroce.You Don't Mess Around With Jim.coverflat.jpg


180g 1LP (BMG)

Side A
1.You Don't Mess Around With Jim
2. Tomorrow's Gonna Be A Brighter Day
3. New York's Not My Home
4. Hard Time Losin' Man
5. Photographs And Memories
6. Walkin' Back To Georgia

Side B
1. Operator (That's Not The Way It Feels)
2. Time In A Bottle
3. Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy)
4. Box #10
5. A Long Time Ago
6. Hey Tomorrow

TSOP's picture

Jim was a talented songwriter and a fine singer. His singing voice was casual and conversational, like hearing the guy in the bar sing his stories in a pretty voice, accompanied by impeccable guitar playing. Glad to see him get some overdue recognition.

BillK's picture

Friday Music said that their release was going to be the first of several, yet they never released any others.

On the other hand, BMG reissued “I Got a Name” and “Life and Times” in 2020 and they were HORRIBLE.

They obviously came from digital masters and very much SOUNDED it - very mechanical and horrid compared to original pressings of the albums.

Given that, I very much would not trust BMG to do any kind of a decent job with this release. I suspect they also will come from digital masters, and once again will sound like it.

Robcos02330's picture

That’s a shame BillK. Jim Croce is the one artist gap I’d love to fill in my collection. I’ve had to set aside many used copies that were just not all that salvageable over the years. Based on your BMG impressions….perhaps now is the time for me find the best mastered cd versions of his catalogue.

rich d's picture

you don't mess around with light aircraft. Just saying.

Mudfoot's picture

That comment is quite insensitive. Some of Jim’s family are close friends of mine and wonderful humans. If I was to introduce you to them, would you say the same comment to their face?
Sure, It made you laugh but you obviously didn’t think about the fact that Jim and his family are real human beings. They lost someone who was just trying to earn a living for his family and had to deal with that trauma. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment, how would you feel if one of your parents died when you were 2 years old and you grew up never knowing them.

Anton D's picture

In very synchronicity-like, fashion, this album came out in spring, 1972, and that fall my 7th grade class had a guest speaker from the University who was talking about motivational stuff to a bunch of us young idiots.

To start the talk, he played "Time in Bottle" from the album, a couple of years (I think) before it was even a single.

He cued up the record and talked about paying attention to life and 'not wishing the day away' like school kids do. I was totally below average kid only partly paying attention, but, for some reason, that moment remains in my head. I can vividly picture the speaker, the sound from the school's tabletop record player, the works.

I might remember so well because it was likely the only time I spontaneously answered a question in class in my life. The speaker worked with the Olympic team, and has asked why we thought these athletes dedicated so much time and effort in chasing their endeavors. A bunch of kids answered before me, "To win. To become famous. To get rich, etc." The speaker kept saying "Nope, nope, nope," so I blurted out, "Because it's fun?" My usual teacher looked at me in her usual way of signaling wrongness,' but the speaker said, "Exactly!" and the talk went on from there.

It seemed a little platitude-like but, obviously, it all stayed in my brain. Keeping fun in mind is still a very useful thing to remember.

If you are still friends with the family, please tell them hello.

rich d's picture

So a joke about a dead pop star is out of bounds now. Don't tell Elvis! Croce's family is probably OK with me as I spent plenty of cash in Ingrid Croce's old restaurant and I bought his records as well.

If someone made a joke about the loss of one of my loved ones 50 years after the event I'd like to think that my friends wouldn't go High Dudgeon but that's just me.

By the way you hurt my feelings calling me insensitive. How dare you. I'm gonna have a good cry now.

garrard701's picture

I agree with Anton -- what might have been. I really hope this album sparks a critical reappraisal of his work. He belongs in the Rock Hall: he could sing, he could write, he could play, he picked excellent material, his records sounded good, he had such a cool attitude, he was handsome, eight Top 40 entries... he should have been even bigger than he was just during his lifetime. And his songs are still popular with young people, even if they don't know his whole story. He is right there with Badfinger (for me) as far as mega tragic stories of incredibly talented people. I'm glad his family has been keeping his legacy alive, and hopefully they'll reissue his other two most popular albums (Life and Times; I Got a Name).

Tom L's picture

I don't mind rich d's little joke, but it did make me think of all the talented people we've lost to plane crashes-many of which were avoidable.
Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, Glenn Miller, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Otis Redding, the guys from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rick Nelson, Randy Rhodes, John Denver...right off the top of my head that's quite a list.

rich d's picture

I think the lesson here is that any of us becomes really, really good at making music (unlikely in my case) and really famous (ditto) he or she should probably just take the bus.

elmore244's picture

I originally only had an ABC pressing of Photographs & Memories, which wasn't bad, but then I came across several Jim Croce LPs on Lifesong through a large collection I bought. I was surprised how much detail and soundstage came across from those pressings. The Lifesong Photographs & Memories pressing sounds so much better than the original ABC LP. It's my 'go to' when I'm in a Croce mood.

mbovaird's picture

I received my copy of the 50th Anniversary Edition album. It’s not the quietest pressing, but not the noisiest either. That being said, the mint MOFI version I have from 1982 clobbers it.