Willie Dixon / Jimmy Reed

Big Boss Men

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The six live 1971 tracks by Dixon on this disc comprise only about half of the CD; the remainder consists of live 1972 material by Jimmy Reed, recorded at the same venue (Liberty Hall in Houston). Although Dixon offers strong vocal performances (as well as playing bass) on these cuts, the sound quality isn't so hot, and adequate at best. The band's okay, the name sideman being Walter Horton on harmonica. In addition to the familiar classics "Spoonful" and "I Just Want to Make Love to You," there's also the much lesser-known emotional, minor-key slow burner "Sitting and Crying the Blues," with uncredited piano, and the instrumental "Chicago Here I Come." On the final two songs, it might be hard to even consider Dixon as the featured artist, since Johnny Winter (credited as "John Winter") takes the vocal and guitar on "Tore Down," and then lead guitar on an instrumental, the Winter composition "Roach Stew." If this was longer and in decent fidelity, it would be a good record, but its shortcomings limit its attraction to severely dedicated Chicago blues fans. And, unfortunately, the four Jimmy Reed tracks drag the album's worth to a lower level, with sluggish performances (featuring Winter on guitar throughout) and sadly past-his-peak vocalizing by Reed.

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