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.