Album Review

Jerry Reed - Pickin'

Jerry Reed - Pickin'

Jerry Reed hit the big-time in 1970 with his cross-over, swamp-country tall-tale "Amos Moses" after 15 years of scuffling and songwriting ("Crazy Legs" for Gene Vincent, "Misery Loves Company" for Porter Wagoner) and nearly a decade as one of Nashville's most in-demand session guitarists. The ensuing three decades have seen a string of top-10 humoresques ("When You're Hot, You're Hot", "She Got the Goldmine, I Got the Shaft"), Hollywood movies (Smokey And The Bandit, BAT 21), and TV stardom, as well as a bunch of erratic albums, except for the three he cut with mentor Chet Atkins. Here he takes a break from touring and a recent flurry of silver-screen activities (he played the coach in 1998's acclaimed The Waterboy) with an all-original, half-instrumental, half-vocal release. Backed by some of Nashville's best session players, including Jerry Douglas and Kenny Malone, Reed is full of his trademark antic vocal energy and fast-pickin' guitar gymnastics on anecdotal, autobiographical gems such as the title track and "Does Anybody Want To Boogie". The instrumentals vary from Atkins-accented, countrypolitan extravaganzas ("My Gypsy Heart" and "Lottie") that are utterly country/cocktail-jazzy to the barely restrained "Reed's Rag" and a foot-tapping "Sassy". Throughout, Reed's remarkable chops are all over the place; his finger-picking finesse and tongue-in-cheek alacrity have, if anything, improved with age, and the Reedian songwriting touch is still there. Witness "Blindsided Me" and "Talk The Talk & Walk The Walk", a pair of cliche-driven, line-dance-rhythmed surprises. Its only flaw is its 35-minute brevity; I'd love to hear what they left in the can.