Omar Kent Dykes & Jimmy Vaughn, On The Jimmy Reed Highway

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A long overdue tribute to the bluesman succeeds brilliantly.

A Jimmy Reed tribute of some sort was long overdue; fortunately, it's been done by guys who know their stuff. Reed's music was so simple that artists in all genres have done his songs thinking it would be easy; few turned out well because his honeyed approach and country timing are so hard to assimilate. Omar Kent Dykes and Jimmy Vaughan, basically, don't even try (and when you compare Omar's throaty growl to Reed's gentle, nasal slur, how could they?). Sure, they adhere to Reed's simplicity doctrine, but the sound they and their Austin sidemen create is strictly their own. Vaughan, a lean clean guitarist of few notes and many moods, steals a song like “Aw Shuck, Hush Your Mouth” without playing standard Reed or Eddie Taylor (Reed's nonpareil second guitarist) licks. Omar's harmonica may occasionally echo Reed's languid wheeze, but he usually plays more and harder than Jimmy. Yet they always retain the greasy and easy-yet-insistent swing that helped make Reed's music so infectious. Two further highlights: Omar and Lou Ann Barton trying to out-rascal each other on “Good Lover,” then steaming up the sheets on “Caress Me Baby.”