Jerry Reed

The Unbelievable Guitar and Voice of Jerry Reed

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As the title of Jerry Reed's 1967 debut makes plain, Reed's guitar was always central to his persona, so it comes as a slight surprise that there are only a few big showcases for his picking. But what showcases they are! There's "Guitar Man" and "U.S. Male," songs Elvis Presley cherry-picked for his 1968 comeback and they're just as pivotal to Reed's image, containing the core of his funny, stomping Southern wildman persona. Also, the album concludes with "The Claw," the first -- and by many measures best -- of his casual displays of guitar virtuosity. Apart from that, The Unbelievable Guitar & Voice winds up emphasizing the latter part of the equation, with many of its 12 songs following the contours of polished Music City pop in 1967. Not only are there plenty of syrupy strings and harmonies; there are harpsichords and electric pianos, jazzy shuffles and sweet minor-key melodies, all delivered with panache by Reed, who also crafts his commercially minded songs with considerable skill.