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The Very Best of Jimmy Reed

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Album Review

Jimmy Reed followed a limited formula, but it worked time and time again, and his songs, because of their inherent structural simplicity, are among the most versatile in the blues canon, and have been covered by countless blues and pop artists. With his laid-back, slurred singing style stretched over a lazy, easy boogie rhythm, and punctuated by short runs on his racked harmonica, Reed brought a kind of hushed, unhurried urgency to everything he recorded. The lyrics to his songs were actually written by his wife, Mary Lee Reed, and although she remains in the background on his records, they were very much a songwriting team, turning out such enduring classics as "Baby What You Want Me to Do," "Big Boss Man," "Bright Lights, Big City," and "Ain't That Loving You Baby," all of which are included on this collection. There are numerous compilations of Reed's work on the market, some more complete than this one, but given the sameness of his approach, this 16-song set might be just about the right length for the casual listener.


Born: 06 September 1925 in Leland, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

There's simply no sound in the blues as easily digestible, accessible, instantly recognizable, and as easy to play and sing as the music of Jimmy Reed. His best-known songs -- "Baby, What You Want Me to Do," "Bright Lights, Big City," "Honest I Do," "You Don't Have to Go," "Going to New York," "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby," and "Big Boss Man" -- have become such an integral part of the standard blues repertoire, it's almost as if they have existed forever. Because his style was simple and easily imitated,...
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The Very Best of Jimmy Reed, Jimmy Reed
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