Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blues from Jimmy Reed, 1963

Originally posted on October 29, 2007

Can it be Monday again? A good time for the blues, the backbone of rock and jazz and much else. I am listening to a 1963 Vee Jay release T’Aint No Big Thing, But He is Jimmy Reed. It was re-released on Collectibles, and it sounds as fresh as the day it was made. Like so many urban bluesman of his era, Jimmy Reed came up to Chicago from the south to seek his fortune. He began recording for Vee Jay in 1953 and had a string of blues hits and many albums through the ‘60s. He influenced all kinds of musicians, perhaps most famously the Rolling Stones, who recorded some of his songs early in their career and were influenced by him in general. This particular album is typical of Jimmy's work. He and his fellow guitarists set up a rocking blues pattern with the rhythm section and each cut is mostly under three minutes.

The way the band works together, the ever-present turnarounds (concluding phrases that come at the end of the blues chord patterns) for multiple lines, Jimmy’s laconic vocals and his piercing harmonica set him apart from the rest. His style never really changed, at least during the Vee Jay days. There were four basic grooves he had—boogie-jump, fast blues, mid-tempo shuffle, and very slow blues. Each groove had corresponding interlocking lead and rhythm guitar parts and the band had mastered their unique approach completely by the time this record was made. They really rock!

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