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Blues - Released August 4, 2017 | Concord Records, Inc. (UMG Account)

Jimmy Reed signed with Chicago's Vee-Jay Records in 1953 and he stayed with the label for nearly a dozen years, during a decade where blues had its last great run as a hit singles medium. Reed was partially responsible for the golden age of blues hits on the R&B charts in the '50s, racking up nine Billboard R&B Top 10 singles between 1955 and 1961. All the hits, along with their flipsides -- and, sometimes, the spoken introduction not released on a 45 -- are here on this magnificent triple-disc set from Craft Recordings. Reed may have had a limited palette -- it was all shuffles, boogies, and laconic 12-bar jams, almost all in the same couple of keys -- but the music sounds infinite, largely due to how Reed clicked with guitarist Eddie Taylor. Together, the two locked into a raw, funky groove that proved enduring and malleable. Within it, the pair could get the house rocking or they could lay back in a smoky groove, and their interplay is one of those recordings that retains their visceral kick all these years later; even the instrumental B-sides seem alive. The bigger revelation of Mr. Luck is how deep Reed's songbook is. Many of his biggest hits are 20th century standards covered by bluesmen, rockers, and country singers -- "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby," "Baby What You Want Me to Do," "Big Boss Man," and "Bright Lights Big City," along with "Take Out Some Insurance," which is the only one of these songs not to chart -- but Mr. Luck shows that he had strong songs tucked away in deeper recesses of his catalog, and that's why this is such an essential set. Other comps and albums get the essence of Jimmy Reed, but this shows how rich his music is. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Blues - Released November 4, 2014 | Concord Records, Inc.

This release added yet another wrinkle to Jimmy Reed's mystique. Even most of his fans would concede that Reed's guitar skills were far short of virtuoso level. Yet, Jimmy Reed -- not a celebrated 12-string guitar player like Leadbelly or any of the other renowned instrumentalists who came up in Leadbelly's wake -- cut this acoustic 12-string instrumental album, which has become an enduring classic of the genre. Reed was as skilled at presenting his guitar work as he was as a singer, and his playing on 12 String Guitar Blues is smooth, sinewy, lean, and lyrical, with a tight band behind him. Consisting of recognizable Reed originals and a couple of other blues standards thrown in, the music comes off very well, mixing electric guitar with acoustic 12-string and Reed's harmonica substituting for the vocal parts. The harmonica is on a separate track, making use of a natural sounding stereo separation that keeps the sound of the band -- featuring Eddie Taylor and Lefty Bates on guitar, Marcus Johnson on bass, and Morris Wilkerson and Earl Phillips on drums -- unified. The result is yet another classic album by Reed, and one of the more straightforward and accessible bodies of blues played on 12-string that one can find. This fall 2000 Collectables reissue, licensed through Rhino Records, features impeccable sound and recreates the original album art and jacket notes. ~ Bruce Eder

Blues - Released December 8, 2015 | Shami Media Group 3

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Blues - Released November 4, 2014 | Concord Records, Inc.

Blues - Released November 16, 1959 | 50's Records

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Blues - Released January 1, 2000 | Concord Records, Inc.

"Shame Shame" is only the tip of the iceberg on this hard-rocking blues classic, which ought to be in the collection of every serious fan of the early Rolling Stones, the Pretty Things etc. By the time he went into the studio in 1963 to record the 11 songs that would make up this album, Jimmy Reed had deteriorated a bit in health since his classic '50s sides -- that's obvious from his voice, which sounds more dissolute than it did on his classic early sides. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, given the nature of his repertory and sound -- the guitars, mostly played by Eddie Taylor with some contributions (most notably on "Shame Shame," as well as two other songs) from Lefty Bates, do sort of dominate, along with Reed's harp and his own guitar playing. And the voice is still expressive, if kind of a little scarily deteriorated in quality at this point. His harp playing was also still interesting to hear, if not quite as free ranging in its sound, or as dexterous as it had been on his first few albums. Jimmy Reed, Jr., who was beginning to get featured with the elder Reed at the latter's concerts, handled the bass chores on three of the songs. ~ Bruce Eder
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Blues - Released November 4, 2014 | Concord Records, Inc.

Jimmy Reed The Legend-The Man was originally released in 1965 on Vee Jay records and was reissued by Collectables in 2000. While it contains a number of classics, like "Baby What You Want Me to Do," "Big Boss Man," "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby," and "Bright Lights, Big City," what makes this reissue so compelling are the short interview sections with Reed at the start of each track. Conducted in 1964 by Vee Jay A&R man Calvin Carter, we hear Reed discussing his career and trying to put it into chronological and often humorous perspective. This former cotton picker, junk man, butcher, and "shakeout man in the foundry working in 118 degree heat" went on to become a legend of modern blues. This is not only a perfect introduction anthology to his music, but a blues history lesson that anyone interested in Reed or the genre should find fascinating. ~ Al Campbell
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Blues - Released November 11, 2014 | Concord Records, Inc.

There isn't a bad track on Found Love. Not only are some of Jimmy Reed's biggest hits included -- "Baby What You Want Me to Do," "Big Boss Man," and "Hush Hush" -- but the title track is particularly notable, as it contains a one-note harp wail that proves to be vibrant, heartfelt, and timeless. As with most of Reed's albums of this period -- and most blues albums of this era -- the album contains material from across over a year's worth of sessions, from the spring of 1959 through the summer of 1960, with one track ("I Ain't Got You") pulled from a 1955 session. Eddie Taylor is playing a lot of the lead guitar, but Lefty Bates is also heard on many of the cuts, and Willie Dixon, no less, is playing bass on "Meet Me," "Big Boss Man," and "Come Love." Earl Phillips is responsible for all of the drumming, and Mary Lee "Mama" Reed is heard on the backing vocals of "Baby What You Want Me to Do." Reed's catalog has seen numerous reissues of varying quality across the decades, but the Collectables label did an admirable job in 2000, reissuing both Reed's library and that of John Lee Hooker from the same label with great sound quality and original packaging at a budget price. [Koch re-released Found Love in 2000 and added four bonus tracks.] ~ Al Campbell & Bruce Eder
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Blues - Released January 9, 2019 | SPV

Blues - Released July 20, 2016 | Westmill

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Blues - Released December 20, 2017 | HHO

Blues - Released May 21, 2007 | Last Call Records

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Miscellaneous - Released April 20, 1992 | Digimusic

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Pop - Released August 6, 2013 | Rhino

Jimmy Reed made a comeback in the mid-'70s before passing away, and was not the Jimmy Reed of his heyday. These cuts, featuring a lot of newly "written" material, sound like the old stuff but not as fresh or potent. In fact, listeners will easily be able to identify which of these "new" tunes closely resemble specific well-known hits. Still, it's Jimmy Reed, the sweet, simple, easygoing bluesman playing the relaxed and loping music he is instantly identified with. If anything, his voice is noticeably diminished and the harmonica is out of tune, on the sharp side. The short-shrift CD runs just a tad under 37 minutes, but those who love Reed will likely still want it. ~ Michael G. Nastos
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Blues - Released January 1, 1960 | Concord Records, Inc. (UMG Account)

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Blues - Released January 1, 1962 | Concord Records, Inc. (UMG Account)

Just Jimmy Reed was originally released in 1962 on Vee-Jay Records and reissued by Collectables in 2000. This short ten-track set doesn't include any of Reed's most beloved hits ("Oh John" being the closest), but it does highlight material that could have been. Reed's patented swamp blues guitar and harmonica lines mixed with his uniquely lazy vocal style are in the forefront of tunes like "Let's Get Together," "Kansas City Baby," "In the Morning," and "Good Lover." There are some unusual touches -- the album opens up with the strangely offbeat, organ-dominated and trumpet- and sax-ornamented "I'll Change My Style"; and Mama Reed shows up on backing vocals on "Take It Slow," adding some variety to the singing. Jimmy Reed, Jr., who was increasingly being featured at the elder Reed's shows, is present on guitar on two tracks and on bass elsewhere. And instead of Eddie Taylor, who played on most of Reed's classic sides, much of the guitar here is played by Lefty Bates. But despite this difference, the best of the material on Just Jimmy Reed -- which is most of the contents -- could easily have qualified for placement on Reed's indispensable first two albums. ~ Al Campbell & Bruce Eder
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Blues - Released January 1, 1963 | Concord Records, Inc.

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Blues - Released January 1, 1958 | Concord Records, Inc.

In deciding where to start listening to Jimmy Reed, the man and his record label made it easy -- at the beginning. His debut LP release, I'm Jimmy Reed, was about as strong a first album as was heard in Chicago blues, but also no stronger (relatively speaking) than the first long-players issued of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and co. As was the case with most bluesmen of his generation, Reed's debut LP was really a collection of single sides than an actual album of new material (though some of it did hail from its year of release), consisting of tracks he'd recorded from June 1953 ("Roll & Rhumba") through March 1958 ("You Got Me Crying" etc.). So it's no surprise that it rivals The Best of Muddy Waters or any of the other 12" platters that were showing up from Reed's rivals at the end of the 1950s -- most of the blues labels put together their LPs the same way at first. But that also turns I'm Jimmy Reed into a treasure-trove of prime material from his repertory, including the songs on which he'd built his reputation over the previous five years, key among them "Honest I Do," "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby," "You Got Me Dizzy," and "You Don't Have to Go," plus their highly relevant B-sides, which help give this album more depth and breadth than a formal hits collection would have had. And in addition to Reed's singing and harp work, the album is also a superb showcase for guitarists Eddie Taylor and John Brim (the latter on the earliest material here), and drummer Earl Phillips. ~ Bruce Eder
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Blues - Released January 1, 2004 | Concord Records, Inc.

Decent LP with several rarities. ~ Bill Dahl
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Blues - Released January 1, 1964 | Concord Records, Inc. (UMG Account)