One thing that you always have guaranteed when it comes to Jimmy Lloyd Rea, you’re going to get straight ahead, no nonsense blues and nothing else. The Northwest Boogie King has been plying his blues trade for more than four decades now and he has never strayed away from that promise. Learning directly at the feet of the genre’s greatest artists that he came into contact with throughout his career, people such as John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Albert King, Muddy Waters, Big Walter Horton and more, plus working with bands like Canned Heat and Pete Karnes Blooz Band made the impression upon him that this was the only pure form of music that he wished to pursue. And Jimmy Lloyd Rea has delivered exactly that; honest and raw boogie that is true and direct to the core.
American Boogie Man is Jimmy Lloyd Rea’s fourth release with his longtime band The Switchmasters. This two CD set offers 12 new tracks on disc one that really tears up the boogie groove, featuring guitar master Craig Tarwater, an exceptional player with a resume that includes working with acts like Dobie Gray, The Drifters, Dr. John, Barry White, Frank Zappa, Buddy Miles, Canned Heat and more. His playing is impeccable holding back nothing throughout disc one on all seven songs he is included on. Also featured on guitar is longtime Switchmaster Ron Carnes, who offers some sensational blistering slide work on “Maxwell Street” and on the title number “American Boogie Man” with Jimmy Lloyd Rea pounding that boogie that easily rivals any of those Texas-based groups who may think they command the sound alone.
Highlights on this new material have to note tracks like “200 Miles,” “Brownline Fever,” “Voodoo Moon” and the rightly stated “Don’t Vote, Don’t Bitch.” Jimmy
Lloyd Rea’s songwriting remains strong, having written nearly all of the numbers on his own, save the exception of “Don’t Vote, Don’t Bitch” which was co-written with guitarist Terry Martin.
For disc two, Jimmy Lloyd Rea has taken select tracks from the previous three Switchmasters’ recordings and had them remastered to the point where they sound amazing. This is the type of sound that you get in a live Switchmasters performance and what you want to hear when listening to the band at home. It is some of the most beloved music of the band which was enhanced by the late guitar master Vince Hozier and also included one of the Northwest’s finest harmonica players, Bill Rhoades.
In the album’s titles track, Jimmy Lloyd Rea declares himself as the American Boogie Man. He can talk to Muddy Waters and bring back John Lee Hooker just with the power of his instrument. This album makes you believe that statement is true. Jimmy Lloyd Rea & The Switchmasters does not release very many albums, but when they do they’re worth running out and picking up right away. American Boogie Man is no exception and just may contain some of the band’s most ferocious and powerful boogie yet.
As a special bonus, the package contains two collector guitar picks and a Jimmy Lloyd Rea sticker. That’s just a little lagniappe; American Boogie Man stands well on its own without any extras needed to entice you. But they’re nice.
Twin Blade Razor
by J.W. “Torch” Davis
Living Blues Legend Jimmy Lloyd Rea has just released a new dual disc album
encompassing songs, artists and experiences from throughout his long career.
The new twin-pack is titled “American Boogie Man.” The set is beautifully packaged in
a bright yellow cover, with examples of God’s finest work amply displayed, along with
some “good ‘ol American Iron” hot rods! Yeah Baby! Every effort has been spent to give
you a reason to notice this new offering. As well you must!
To get acquainted with this new recording, I played it in the background while working
at other tasks, waiting to see if any tunes stopped me in my tracks and turned my head
around. Disc 1, track 12 “Baker City State Of Mind” was the first number to do the trick.
This tune is low and slow and just thumpin’ with bass. I thought I might have to install
liquid cooling in my sub-woofer! I LIKE it!
Disc 2, track 2 “Home Boy Blues” is another “dig in your heels and pull from deep
inside” kind of real-deal blues. We could continue to list our own favorites, but because
you are reading this, you already know you need your own copy.
I have never known any album to contain all keeper tracks, even the “Best Of” variety,
but this set certainly approaches the ideal. Disc one is the new stuff. Disc 2 is a
combination of JLR’s three previous albums. I love some cuts from each, and I love some
song titles (Don’t Vote, Don’t Bitch) better than the song it identifies. Bottom line? Lots
The packaging is cool. the choice of photos, guitars, cars and yes, ladies, is first cabin
stuff. Jimmy Lloyd Rea himself is such a blues legend that I don’t feel it necessary to
lay out a bunch of history here. The fact that we have been privileged to spend some
time with him on a couple of occasions testifies to his humble attitude. He doesn’t think
he is hot stuff because he is a Blues Hall of Fame celebrity. He considers it as simply
his honest attempt to pay tribute to the blues legends who have gone before him. The
physical challenges of his later years would make a lesser soul bitter and depressed. JLR
has risen above all that tripe, and just flat lays out the blues line. Can’t decide whether I
love the man or his music more. Cool thing is, I don’t gotta decide!