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Big Boss Man: The Life and Music of Bluesman Jimmy Reed Paperback – Aug 1 2006

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A hard life marked by the blues July 12 2013
By Blues Wolf - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jimmy Reed has a lot in common with other Blues greats like BB King, Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. After all, they were all farm hands who had a talent for music and were, unbeknownst to themselves destined the shape and form of blues music. Reed had a unique offering to the music world, in that all his songs featured the same Eddie Taylor shuffle and it was Jimmy's voice, lyrics and harp playing that set songs apart. The stories behind individual songs are amazing, as they were in the biographies of other greats like Wolf and Keith Richards. Jimmy's simple playing left him rather unknown after his death while the younger generation was singing songs of praise for the more famous BB King, Wolf and Waters. However, I was led to Reed's direction by Keith Richards, who in his autobiography alludes to Reed as a major influence and a wizard of simplicity. Like many artists, Reed was also exploited by those around him including recording contracts which effectively deprived him of most recurrent earnings. His wife's role in his career is truly unique among musicians as she was there in the recording booth to help him remember the lyrics (something you can hear on a number of songs). She also wrote a few of the songs and took care of him in testing times like his epileptic fits which would eventually consume him. Reed was surrounded by coworkers who saw him through his grave alcoholism and epilepsy. These included Al Smith, Eddie Taylor and of course Mama Reed among others. Reed was featured in the top charts more than any other blues great as his songs appealed to a wider audience despite being based on the same shuffle. Reed was obviously a simple man, prone to a lot of drinking and strongly dependent on his friends for everything but in the process he did not lose their affection for him. His popularity declined towards the end of his career amid changing labels, rock and roll revolution and rifts within the band as Eddie Taylor (apparently THE sound of the band) decided to tread his own path. Jimmy left the world just as he was making a come back with an album and tours; his financial plight was also not very strong at the time however subsequent legal quagmires would lead to beneficial settlement for the Reed estate. I am very grateful for Keith Richards for leading me to Reed's direction and this book is truly a gem about an under-appreciated blues great.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
great read Nov. 9 2006
By LBWheels457 - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book looks at the life of Jimmy Reed. His music was and still is wonderful and very influencial. This book tells of his troubles of trying to make it to his successes to comebacks and all of the struggles he faced inbetween. It's a fascinating story that is very historical in it's content, but also a captivating read.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Big Boss Book On The Big Boss Man! Sept. 16 2007
By Frederick J. Decker - Published on
Format: Paperback
The miraculous progress in blues scholarship over the last 20 years or so continues with this book about the great Jimmy Reed. There were virtually no liner notes on Jimmy Reed albums, so a well researched book like this one fills in much needed information. The bonus of a book like this is the circular effect of reading it. Jimmy Reed's music draws you to the book, and reading the book sends you back to the music to hear musical observations the author points out. The end result is a better appreciation for music you already loved!
A worthwhile read about a very worthwhile Reed... Sept. 22 2015
By D. Deering - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Credit goes to Will Romano for doing the research and interviews, and writing this book. It's the best place I know of to find out what was going on in Jimmy Reed's life while he was making those beautiful, timeless recordings, and what was happening in the sessions, things like that.

Sometimes, as on p. 42, I’d question his judgment (maybe just a word choice), calling the double entendres in John Brim’s “Ice Cream Man” “outrageous” (unless I've missed something, they’re mild). But almost all of my criticisms would be directed at the publisher, editor and proofreader (if there was one). There were far too many avoidable errors.

For one complicated example, on p. 52, discussing the harmony of “You Don’t Have to Go,” he calls the IV chord a Bmaj7 (I don’t hear a major chord in the tune at all, but I admit to sometimes being fooled by sounds), while he calls the V a C7 (but says it’s played at the 4th fret, that would likely make it a C#). The IV and V chords are a step apart, not a half step (if they weren't, but they are, this should have been commented on). It sounds to me like the tune is in F natural. At any rate, an editor with an understanding of music should have straightened this out.

There are several other mistakes of varying seriousness, including one of my pet peeves, a misspelled name; Buddy Holly is spelled “uddy Holly.”

Overall, it’s an enjoyable and worthwhile read. After putting his time and energy into it, Will Romano should have been protected by his publisher and editor from the kind of criticisms I’m making.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By W J. LANE - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book just for hardcore Jimmy Reed fans! If you can't sing along on every Jimmy Reed song ever recorded don't bother!
But if you are a Jimmy Reed fan, you need this book.