Personnel: Jimmy Reed (guitar, harmonica); Jimmy Reed (vocals); Mary Reed (vocals); W.C. Dalton, John Brim, John Littlejohn (guitar); Henry Gray (piano); Willie Dixon (bass guitar); Albert King, Vernel Fournier (drums); Lefty Bates (guitar, bass guitar); Eddie Taylor, Remo Biondi (guitar); Earl Phillips (drums).
Recording information: 06/06/1953-??/??/1963.
With his mid-tempo three-chord blues shuffle rhythms, crude rack harmonica runs, and lazy, slurred vocals that barely navigated his limited four- or five-note melodies, Jimmy Reed seems to possess all the qualities of an amateur player destined to serve out his career in his own basement playing to no one in particular. That all of these musical limitations turned out ultimately to be assets is a lesson for all of us, because Reed's unerring simplicity produced blues and rock classics like "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby," "Baby What You Want Me to Do," "Shame Shame Shame" and countless other songs, all built from the same crude template, and they've stood the test of time. This disc provides a generous portion of his hits for Vee-Jay Records, including the above songs and other genre standards like "I Ain't Got You," "Bright Lights Big City" and "Big Boss Man," making this a fine introduction to Reed. Longer compilations are available, but since his sound never really varies, this 20-song set is just about right. ~ Steve Leggett