Jimmy Reed, I’m Jimmy Reed

Ed Ward

By Ed Ward

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

I'm Jimmy Reed

Jimmy Reed
The most accessible of the master Chicago bluesmen.

There was a time during the great folk scare of the early 1960s when if you saw this record in someone's record collection, you knew they'd been enlightened, and cast off the dogmatic fear of electricity. Jimmy Reed, unlike the triumvirate of Muddy Waters, Howlin 'Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson on Chess, had a light touch on both guitar and harmonica, and was instantly accessible to people who'd been listening to country blues, although he was no country bluesman himself. Starting in 1957, he started showing up on the lower reaches of the pop charts, but this, his first album, shows that his style and songwriting abilities were with him from his first Vee-Jay hits, "You Don't Have to Go" and "Ain't That Lovin 'You Baby," (1954-5), both included here. Unlike the Chess guys, he had fans in the north and the south, and until the road and constant drinking got the better of him, he made a kind of blues nobody else could imitate or equal.