There are songs and artists which some folks call “Oldies”, and I love a lot of them: Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Bo Diddley, and many more. I could try to place some of the blame on the 1970s TV show “Happy Days”, but I’ve never gone for what’s musically current and I make no bones about it. Some songs just seem to have an old style or feel to them, regardless of when they were actually recorded, and I gravitate toward them.
One overlooked Oldie in my book is a song recorded by Jimmy Reed called “I’ll Change My Style.”
I’m a big fan of Jimmy Reed and, while this song is a slow one, it’s pretty typical of his style (no pun intended): lazy/loping beat, harmonica solo, and slurred vocals. I read part of a Jimmy Reed bio called “Big Boss Man: The Life and Music of Bluesman Jimmy Reed” by Will Romano. One of the most revealing things I learned from the book, is Reed was an epileptic and apparently drank alcohol because he thought it would stave off seizures. That could explain the “slurred” sound on some of his recordings. (On one album, Reed is heard hilariously saying, “I can’t get let loose if I don’t get my juice”.)
Reed was an enormous influence on countless blues musicians. For example, Jimmie Vaughan (The Fabulous Thunderbirds, SRV’s older brother) and Omar Kent Dykes (Omar and the Howlers) recorded a tribute album called “On The Jimmy Reed Highway.”
It’s worth a listen. Another blues musician Reed influenced was Delaware’s own George Thorogood. In addition to live versions, Thorogood recorded a version of it on his debut album “George Thorogood and The Destroyers.”
Thorogood’s version might have been the first one I heard. Kudos, George! To tie it all together, The Rolling Stones recorded one of Reed’s songs on their first album as well — ironically, Thorogood was the opening act for the Stones on one of their tours.
Unfortunately, I know very little about writers of “I’ll Change My Style”: William Parker and Manuel Villa. Reed released the song in 1962 on Vee-Jay Records. There are other versions out there, but these are some of the ones I’ve encountered.
Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!