Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jimmy Reed

I borrowed The Very Best Of Jimmy Reed from a friend of mine, whom I shall call Sausages. He had more albums than I had.

Not the only guy like that. I knew a guy who had 35000 LPs in his basement, and he was 30 something and still lived with his parents. He had to, because he couldn’t rent an apartment big enough for his collections, and nobody would marry him and his records. Move away and leave the records behind? Don’t even suggest it.

Thing is, a guy with 35,000 records, it’s not for the music, not mainly, it’s an obsession, the collecting, it’s about first editions and original labels and limited editions and etc etc. (The grammar police will get me for that “and etc;” but that whole sentence is chaos.)

My friend though, he was into the music, big time. A jazz fan mostly, but his taste was eclectic and he had Springsteen next to Sonny Stitt (literally? No.)

So I borrowed Jimmy Reed. I also borrowed Phil Ochs. I also got some Van Morrison from him. And I used his CD player when mine AWOL.

So “Sausages”, here’s wishing you and your LP collection and your family all the best in health and happiness, and more health…

Jimmy Reed:

High And Lonesome – What is he singing about. I really don’t know, but the title is contradictory. Whatever it means, he sings it rather defiantly. “I’m high and lonesome,” he proclaims, “be on your merry way.” Odd.
Boogie In The Dark – Never mind what he is singing about; this one’s an instrumental. Jimmy Reed in excelsis.
You Don’t Have To Go – It doesn’t get more basic then this. But he is not asking her to stay with him. Rather he is offering to go and save her the trouble. He even gives her his money…
Take Out Some Insurance – A strange song title indeed, but in the end it’s just another way of saying I will die if you leave me. Tony Sheridan did this with either The Beatles or The Beat Brothers. It was on that Hamburg album they did…
Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby – A rock and roll staple, but not the Elvis Presley song. A hit for Bobby Bland, recorded by Taj Mahal, The Youngbloods etc etc.
You Got Me Dizzy – Well Little Willie John had fever, this guy is dizzy… love as illness.
Down In Virginia – It’s hard for me to understand a word he’s saying on this. From the summer of 1958.
Honest I Do – “You’re the sweetest little woman” proclaims Jimmy, “that I ever had.” And that’s right after saying “stop driving me mad.” OK. From the fall of 1957, and, at #32, the biggest hit he had. Covered by The Stones on their first LP. • Found Love – He does his best mumbling on this. From the summer of 1960.
Goin’ To New York – New York as some kind of promised land. Nilsson did a similar thing, lyrically at least, on I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City.
Baby What You Want Me To Do – The Yardbirds’ version is probably more famous, but the original has all the earthiness, the hidden desperation, you’ve got me doing this, you’ve got me doing that, what you want me to do. According to Dave Marsh, it’s his real life wife singing with him. From the winter of 1960.
I Ain’t Got You – Another original of a Yardbirds cover. The list of what he does have here is so comprehensive that one may be forgiven for thinking that he’s showing off. What’s it all worth, he asks, I ain’t got you. Still…
Big Boss Man – The little guy vs. the big boss. You ain’t so big, he sings, you just tall, that’s all. Meaning what? Elvis covered this, and it wasn’t his biggest hit, reaching only #38 in the fall of 1967, but that was higher than Reed placed it, #78 in the summer of 1961.
Tell The World I Do – Jimmy slows the tempo down, on this statement of undying love. And it’s all very romantic, in a bluesy kind of way, except that his voice sounds positively demented…
Bright Lights, Big City – So many covers of this, from Them to Sonny James. This tale of urban corruption was a sort of hit in the fall of 1961. 7g
Aw Shucks, Hush Your Mouth – And he means it in the nicest possible way. From the winter of 1962.
Laughin’ At The Blues – Maybe. This is a fast instrumental blues, and I don’t know if I’d characterize his guitar on this as laughing, but if you did then you wouldn’t be too far wrong…
Shame, Shame, Shame – Not the Shirley & Co song. The usual stuff, you don’t have to hear it to know what it’s about. This was his last chart placing, in the spring of 1963.
Red Light, The Stop Light – Traffic and driving images crop up now and again: 1-2-3 Red Light, Crosstown Traffic. On this one Jimmy Reed brings his trademark blues to an intersection near you…

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