A.C. Reed
Junk Food
Ice Cube 3970
Liner copy says Aaron Corthen (Reed himself, reports the singer/saxist's management) wrote all 14 cuts. So how come "Party House Blues" is a dead-on copy of "Road House Blues" by of all people -- the Doors? Rockers have robbed bluesmen so often one can't get huffy about this rare reversal, but for a noted blues songsmith like Reed to copy Jim Morrison is one for the books. (Reed doesn't sing it -- his background vocalist Art Irby steps to the fore to do so -- but Reed kicks in a cob-rough sax solo.)

At least it's an aberrant cut. The title song is the set's kickoff, with a snappin' funk beat over which Reed sings of the grub he must recourse to while on the road. It makes you hungry! Reed's wit and eye for what's up also juices "Big Woman," about one who is not -- thanks to Jenny Craig. This tune has a slow beat; a horn section spurs it. The horns really holler on "Give It Up (Smoking)," a call for temperance on which Reed shares the vocals with Chicago guitar stalwart Maurice John Vaughan. It's a soul-strut thang, with Vaughan contributing a brief and entirely credible rap segment.

"Florine" is too much like "Killin' Floor," but "Lonely Man" is killer, a slow blues with Reed's voice a brawny moan backed by rugged guitars and lanky horns. He quotes from "Lonely Avenue" (probably acknowledging the song's inspiration) in his pain-scraping sax solo. Similarly unadorned blues comes in shuffle form on "Party With Y'all," with irresistible beat and more of the wiseacre lyrics that are a Reed trademark.

There are two live cuts, good'uns from when Reed was with Albert Collins' band, and Collins contributes the hot guitar work you expect from him. This is a strong album from the reliably and raucous Reed, but let's hope he doesn't start calling himself the Lizard King!

-- Tim Schuller

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Boulder, CO, USA.