Jimmy Reed

Big Boss Man

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Song Review by

As strongly identified with the original artist as the song may be, Jimmy Reed didn't write this, a collaboration between his producer, Al Smith and Vee-Jay Records staff writer Luther Dixon. Structurally, the song may just be an up-tempo blues, but the stomp-time shuffle rhythm became one of blues/R&B/rock & roll's most signature beats. Tommy Tucker's "High Heel Sneakers" is totally based on Reed's "Bossman" rhythm, which also fuels the drive of Chuck Berry's "Memphis," the Newbeats' "Bread and Butter," the Ikettes' "Peaches and Cream," G.L. Crockett's "It's a Man Down There," and Marvin Gaye's "Can I Get a Witness" and "Wonderful One." The better-known cover versions of Reed's simple masterpiece include Charlie Rich on Groove, a live recording by Slim Harpo (unreleased until the 1990s), and, probably the most famous of all, Elvis Presley's '60s cover. The beat that launched a thousand hits.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Found Love 1959 Collectables 2:50
Jimmy Reed at Carnegie Hall 1961 Shout! Factory 2:50
Jimmy Reed Plays 12 String Guitar Blues 1963 Collectables 2:50
The Legend, the Man 1965 Collectables 3:52
Big Boss Man [Ronn] 1972 Innovation 360 / Ronn 2:53
The Best of Jimmy Reed [GNP] 1977 GNP 2:55
Blues Is Alright, Vol. 3 1978
Various Artists
Malaco 2:47
Oldies But Goodies: Legendary Hits 1979
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:52
No Image 1985 Charly Records
Big Boss Blues 1986 Charly Records / Blues Boulevard / Music Avenue 2:47
Hits from the Legendary Vee Jay Records 1986
Various Artists
Motown 2:49
Oldies But Goodies, Vol. 1 1987
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:52
Bright Lights, Big City 1988 Chameleon 2:51
Golden Oldies, Vol. 4 [Original Sound 1989] 1989
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:50
The Collectables Blues Collection, Vol. 1 1990
Various Artists
Collectables 2:49
Kings of the Blues Guitar 1992
Various Artists
Charly Records / JDC Records
Speak the Lyrics to Me, Mama Reed 1993 Vee-Jay Records
Big Boss Man [Pilz] 1993 Pilz 2:47
The Best of the Blues [Columbia/K-Tel] 1993
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:48
The Blues: A Smithsonian Collection of Classic Blues Singers 1993
Various Artists
Smithsonian Records 2:47
Vee-Jay: Celebrating 40 Years of Classic Hits 1953-1993 1993
Various Artists
Vee-Jay Records 2:51
The Music Never Stopped: Roots of the Grateful Dead 1995
Various Artists
Shanachie 2:49
Classic Recordings 1995 Tomato 2:44
The Essential Blues [House of Blues] 1995
Various Artists
A&M
Honest I Do & Other Classics 1996 Intercontinental Records
School's Out 1996 Vent 3:41
Charly Blues Masterworks, Vol. 17: Bright Lights, Big City 1996 Charly Records
Upside the Wall 1997 Dove 2:49
Legends of Blues [Intercontinental] 1997
Various Artists
Intercontinental Records 2:46
New Jimmy Reed Album/Soulin' 1997 See For Miles Records 2:50
No Image 1997
Various Artists
BMG 2:47
Lost in the Shuffle 1997 32 Jazz 2:51
The King's Record Collection, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
Hip-O 2:53
His Greatest Recordings: Original Classic Series 1998 Aim Records 2:45
Generations of Blues, Vol. 2: Born in Chicago 1998
Various Artists
Vanguard 2:54
Masters 1998 2:48
Sun Is Shining 1998 Mastertone 2:58
Golden Age of Blue Chicago 1998
Various Artists
Blue Chicago 2:50
No Image 1998
Various Artists
BMG Special Products 2:47
Absolutely the Best of the Blues, Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
Fuel 2000 / Varese 2:48
Boss Man 1999 Recall (UK) 2:49
20 Classic Tracks 2000 Eagle Rock / Cleopatra 2:48
Millennium Blues 2000
Various Artists
Jamey Aebersold 0:00
Blues Masters: The Very Best of Jimmy Reed 2000 Rhino 2:48
EP Collection...Plus 2000 See For Miles Records 2:46
Oldies But Goodies, Vol. 1 & 2 2000
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:52
New Millennium Blues Party 2000
Various Artists
Rhino 2:49
The Very Best of Blues, Vol. 5 2000
Various Artists
Collectables 2:50
Pure Blues 2001
Various Artists
UTV 2:46
The Blues Box [Simply the Best] 2001
Various Artists
Simply The Best (Netherlands) 2:51
Big Boss Man [Box Set] 2001 Collectables 3:52
Good Morning Bluesman 2003
Various Artists
P-Vine Records 2:53
Best of Vee-Jay Blues 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 2:50
Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: A Musical Journey 2003
Original Soundtrack
Hip-O 2:49
Blues Story [Shout! Factory] 2003
Various Artists
Shout! Factory 2:52
Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues 2003
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
The Very Best of Jimmy Reed 2003 Tomato 2:46
Best of Chicago Blues [Rhino] 2003
Various Artists
Flashback Records / Rhino Flashback 2:46
Golden Oldies, Vol. 11 [Original Sound 2003] 2003
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:52
Sun Is Shining [2004] 2004 Snapper 2:47
Solid Gold, Vol. 1 2004 Liquid 8 2:51
Blues: Gold 2006
Various Artists
Hip-O 2:51
Sweet Soul Music: 1961 2008
Various Artists
Bear Family Records 2:50
No Image 2011
Various Artists
Universal Music
Plug It In! Turn It Up! Electric Blues - The Definitive Collection, Pt. 3: 1960-1969 2012
Various Artists
Bear Family Records 2:51
Mr. Luck: Complete Vee-Jay Singles 2017 Chaos Recordings / Decca 2:50
No Image
Various Artists
Time / Life Music
Essential Blues
Various Artists
Flashback Records
The 1961 R&B Hits Collection
Various Artists
Acrobat Music 2:45