Saturday, November 29, 2014

Vee-Jay Records: Bright Lights, Big City

Day Seven of our journey through Chicago’s Vee-Jay Records catalog and we bring you a little 12-bar blues by the legendary Jimmy Reed. Although one of Reed’s most popular numbers, “Bright Lights, Big City” only charted at #58 on the Hot 100. The song had a better showing on the R&B chart where it peaked at #3.

Recorded and released by Vee-Jay in 1961, the song features a duet between Reed and his wife Mary – who is otherwise known as “Mama” Reed. In addition to vocals, Reed plays a wicked high register harmonica lead in the key of “A” blues. Playing the harp, I’ve never mastered this upper register playing, but Reed certainly did.

Besides Jimmy and Mama Reed, it was truly a family affair as their son Jimmy, Jr. also plays guitar. Other musicians include second guitarist Lefty Bates, drummer Earl Phillips, and an unknown bassist. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recognizes “Bright Lights, Big City” as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock ‘n’ roll.

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