Friday, August 24, 2007

And Now For Something Completely Different...

Jimmy Reed - State Street Boogie

Chicago bluesman Jimmy Reed has appeared on this blog before, but only in featuring some '70s funky sides that have been comped on CDs like Yo Yo. However, Reed's fame, as I noted in those earlier posts, rested on his hit records for Vee-Jay and Exodus (the short-lived attempt by Vee-Jay to put out records in its bankruptcy) between 1953 and 1966. Some years ago I bought a copy of The Vee-Jay Years, a 6-CD boxed set from Charly that covered Reed's entire Vee-Jay output, and from there I first heard today's selection. Truth be told, I didn't care much for the boxed set. Don't get me wrong - I love Jimmy Reed, but considering that his style was pretty formulaic, after awhile songs seemed to meld together. So at the end of the day I ripped the tunes I liked (both classics and oddities) and then sold the set on eBay. I must recommend the set, though, to anyone who's a more serious fan than I, because the liner notes present a great biography and discography of the man and his work.

In listening to the set, three of the oddest tunes in Reed's Vee-Jay discography jumped out at me. In 1958, Reed recorded some instrumentals with violinist Remo Biondi of the Chicago Symphony. Two of them, the eerie "Odds and Ends" and the boogie-oriented "Ends and Odds," were released as consecutive B-sides that year. The third, "State Street Boogie," proved to be my favorite, and it's featured here today. On "State Street Boogie" Reed is doing his usual thing on guitar and harmonica (with Eddie Taylor's usual excellent anchoring guitar groove driving the tune along) and Biondi's violin swings and sways along on lead and support. My favorite moment comes about one minute in, however, when a fairly tepid guitar solo by Reed is followed by a stomping drum solo that really nails the groove. It's a fun piece of get down, and a nice standout on the Vee-Jay set.

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