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Junk Food

A.C. Reed

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Album Review

Tenor saxophonist Reed was retired for a brief time while he wrote the songs for this recording, and then came back to live performing and touring. His band is a bit rough and a little out of control at times, as the backing guitars are sharp and out of tune. For the most part, though, things are together. There are two cuts from unearthed older sessions featuring the late Albert Collins, some neat horn charts, and cameos from singers Maurice John Vaughn, Sammy Fender, and Arthur Irby, which work to varying degrees. Reed's songs emphasize various social ills, some optimism, and a blues-chasing attitude that always feels good. Reed's signature funky blues crops up on the title track, a travelers anthem about Mickey D's, B.K., and similar places, during which he admits that he eventually "ate a foot long dog," knowing it wasn't good for him. That same funk forms the basis for "Give It Up," a reference to quit smoking with Vaughn chiming in about saying no to drugs, while "Fed Up" has Reed complaining about not getting paid one night after a gig. The Collins features include a slower-paced "Broke Music" (in reference to the blues being broke all the time) and the easy-swinging "I Got Mad," where a female abuser is chided in regards to an eventual Bobbitt incident. Collins' role is, for the most part, incidental. Reed praises Bill Clinton effusively as a saxophonist and leader on the John Lee Hooker-type boogie "The President Plays"; he uses a similar rhythm about "Two Women in a Pick-Up" headin' for New Orleans, and compliments his "Big Woman" who went to Jenny Craig and who is "now... slim & fine" in a slinky, slow 12-bar, pure Chicago blues style. In a "Killin' Floor"-mode "Florine" has Reed adopting a Howlin' Wolf vocal stance. "Lonely Man" is a down-home blues, and the Fender goes soulful on an Albert King-flavored "You're Going to Miss Me." Irby sounds like he's straining to hit high notes on a version of the Doors' "Roadhouse Blues." In the final cut, "Last Time Around," Reed sounds seriously like he has had enough of the music business, given that the song centers around him quitting, harkening back to his previous CD I'm in the Wrong Business. If this is the musician's last recording, it's a good one, with his typical tenor swagger present and accounted for; so typical of bar-walking R&B saxophonists of the '50s, it is compact yet on the edge. His singing is also solid and easily identifiable. The horn backing sounds great throughout, and Reed himself doesn't seem like he is done yet musically. Recommended. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Biography

Born: 09 May 1926 in Wardell, MO

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

To hear tenor saxist A.C. Reed bemoan his fate on-stage, one might glean the impression that he truly detests his job. But it's a tongue-in-cheek complaint — Reed's raspy, gutbucket...
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Junk Food, A.C. Reed
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