Jerry Reed

The Man with the Golden Thumb

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Though producer Rick Hall was infamous for producing Mac Davis's Forty 82 debacle, possibly the worst album recorded in the history of country music, Jerry Reed and RCA retained him for The Man With the Golden Thumb. And it turned out exceptionally well. And while the title track is as much a novelty tune as Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," which it resembles in some ways, it works and, over 20 years later, still sounds fresh and new, and the reason is simply that Reed is that man. There are few guitar players with more grit, grease, soul, and humor. Only Tony Joe White can be considered his peer in terms of pure musical talent, iconoclastic originality, and who-gives-a-damn guts. This is in many ways the soul album Reed always wanted to make. Recorded at Muscle Shoals with Johnny Sandlin in the engineer's chair, it's got the sound of R&B drenched through and through, from "Love Is Muddy Water," with Reed singing like Sam Moore. So take the rest of side one: There's "Shu Doo Pa Poo Pop, I Love Being Your Fool," with its Otis Redding phrasing and stinging guitars behind a pumping bass and B-3. Then, let it slip into the slow soul of "The Best I Ever Had" as sung by a fine country singer and end it with a thoroughly reverential and deeply felt reading of the Memphis R&B classic "Patches," the big hit by Clarence Carter, and you can go home satisfied. But there's more. Side two kicks it with "She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)." Then there's the funky-fried Dixie craziness of "44" and the Dan Penn-Spooner Oldham wrencher "It Tears Me Up." There are a couple of other cuts too, but you get the idea. This disc is a classic, and it's up to you to go and get your mind blown listening to it.

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