Today, let’s pay tribute to a legendary bluesman, Jimmy Reed. Reed was a key figure in moving blues towards the electric guitar and his laid back sound gave him crossover appeal. Well, that and classic songs like “Bright Lights Big City”. Reed got his start in Chicago and became a success on this city’s Vee Jay label. Reed’s other hits include “Big Boss Man”, “Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby” and “Baby What You Want Me to Do”, and he has been covered by everyone from Elvis Presley to Neil Young to Grateful Dead to The Rolling Stones. Indeed, the Stones have done a number of Reed tunes. In honor of Mr. Reed, please grab your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle, and share the first 10 songs that come up.
The Undertones – Nine Times Out of Ten (Radio Sessions 1978-1982): A BBC recording of a typically succinct, punchy and catchy number from The Undertones. I feel like they have been forgotten here in the States and that should not happen. One of the greatest poppy punk bands ever.
Jason Falkner – Goodbye Toulouse (Everyone Says It’s On): This is taken from a 2 CD Falkner collection, with the second disc being all covers. This is his take on a Stranglers’ tune, and he finds a way to transform the gloomy song into something more in fitting with his own songs, showcasing the pop tune that was underneath the murk.
Styx – Too Much Time on My Hands (Paradise Theater): I have a soft spot for this band from our south suburbs, as they mixed prog rock and pop and then added Dennis DeYoung’s Broadway aspirations and James Young and Tommy Shaw’s hard rock moves. This big hit was Shaw’s attempt to be new wavey and it works. One thing I do dig about Styx is that they sometimes added a bit of social commentary into their lyrics, unlike many of their arena rock brethren. I feel no guilt about this.
Tom T. Hall – Second Handed Flowers (In Search Of a Song): A fairly peppy honky tonk story song from the king of country story songs. Here, Tom decides to check in on an old flame, but finds out she’s married...so he then decides to check in on another woman from his past. An guess what, she was in a traffic accident and barely holding on. So he was out on the prowl and instead he ends up chastened and learning a life lesson. Thanks Tom!
Little Eva – Keep Your Hands Off My Baby (Girl Group Sounds Lost & Found): Miss “Locomotion” acquits herself well on this more traditional girl group number. This is a pretty good tune and Eva is a pretty engaging singer.
Deerhunter – Revival (Halcyon Digest): A cool psych-pop shuffle to follow Little Eva. Deerhunter finds a lot of ways to work off its core sound and this sounds like it could have come off of a Tommy James album, during his brief psychedelic period. A very well arranged and produced recording.
Nelson Bragg – Tyme and Tyde Agree (We Get What We Want): Bragg is the percussionist for Brian Wilson and also was part of The Beach Boys’ 50th Anniversary tour. He is also quite the talented singer-songwriter. His music touches on power pop and the best of mellow ‘70s pop-rock. This is a lush, acoustic guitar based number that envelopes with its melody and atmosphere and really pays off in the chorus.
The dB’s – Baby Talk (Ride the Wild Tom Tom): A fun trifle from the pen of Chris Stamey. It’s got a bit of a Zombies’ vibe to it, but with Stamey’s natural quirkiness mixed in.
Billie Davis – I’m in Love With You (Tell Him – The Decca Years): One of my favorite of the ‘60s British girl pop singers. She always sings with an enthusiasm that I find so winning. This tune is in the mold of Dusty Springfield and has a nice energy to it.
Mission of Burma – That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate (Vs.): Probably Clint Conley’s third best known Mission of Burma number. This is a driving post-punk number that is urgent and fueled by Peter Prescott’s incredible drumming. Meanwhile, Roger Miller slashes and burns, leading up to the refrain near the end. This is a tune that should be covered more often.