Blues Bytes


July 2019

Big Jack Reynolds
 That's A Good Way To Get To Heaven
Third Street Cigar Records

Big Jack Reynolds

Big Jack Reynolds was one of those regional blues musicians who was little known outside his home territory of Detroit and Toledo prior to his death in 1993. For those of us not really familiar with the very fine music of Mr. Reynolds, That's A Good Way To Get To Heaven (Third Street Cigar Records) packages not only 20 recordings that he cut for various labels throughout his career but also an 80-minute documentary on DVD. That's a lot of value packed into one set, and it's all high quality music in a southern blues vein.

Reynolds primarily played harmonica and sang on the 20 cuts here, often singing in  the slow southern style made popular by Jimmy Reed with a powerful voice well-suited to the material. It's appropriate then that this disc kicks off with the Reed classic, "Honest I Do," a previously unreleased recording, and later follows with other Reed numbers including the up-tempo shuffle "Go On To School" and the equally upbeat "Shame, Shame, Shame." Reynolds sticks with the same basic downhome sound on a fine rendition of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Help Me." Two other unreleased numbers are the original "In My Room" and a sparse reading of Muddy Waters' "She Moves Me."

There are quite a few Reynolds original compositions here, with the up-tempo shuffle "Walk On Up (But Keep That Red Dress On)" being one of the highlights, with nice piano accompaniment from Chad Smith and tasteful guitar work from Larry Gold, and the rollicking stomper "Poor Boy," featuring some of Reynolds' best harp playing.

Reynolds picks up the guitar for a solo number, "Mean Old People" and on a funky blues with the entire band, "Hot Potato," showing that he was just as adept picking the strings as he was in blowing the harp.

The aforementioned recordings all came from 1990 sessions made in Toledo for Highball Records, but later in the disc we get the added treat of several recordings done for various labels earlier in Reynolds' career. Jimmy Oden's "Going Down Slow" was recorded in 1970 for Fortune Records, while the very interesting calpsyo-ish "Made It Up In Your Mind" was released by the Detroit label Mah's Records in 1963. "I Had A Little Dog," a very Jimmy Reed-like up-tempo original from Reynolds, was released as a single on Hi-Q Records during the same time period, as was the flipside, "You Won't Treat Me Right."

The CD closes with Reynolds' 1987 recording for Blue Suit Records, "She Must Be A Millionaire," that has some of his best harmonica playing in a solo setting.

All 20 cuts on That's A Good Way To Get To Heaven are outstanding, making this CD a "must have" for blues fans especially those looking for the more downhome sound.

But wait --- that's not all! The 80-minute documentary is a fascinating look at this great blues artist, comprised of both interviews with his various sidemen as well as vintage performance videos. The CD is available on the CD Baby store, and I've been told that the DVD is included in that package. More information is also available from Third Street Cigar Records.

--- Bill Mitchell



[Pick Hit][What's New][Surprise][Flashback][Feedback][Back Issues][Home Page]


The Blues Bytes URL... 
Revised: July 22, 2019 - Version 1.00
All contents Copyright 2019, Blue Night Productions. All rights reserved.