Get this crazy baby off my head!


A.C. Reed

A.C. Reed - I'm In The Wrong Business - 1987 - Alligator

Good soul blues album with tough, original songs, often with sardonic and self-mocking, but humorous, lyrics, from the late, great Chicago bluesman, who was regarded as the Windy City's No.1 blues sax man. Not a household name, but A.C. Reed was a good vocalist and great saxophonist, and was a sideman for Buddy Guy and Albert Collins. He was hugely influenced by the great saxophonist, Gene Ammons. He played with many of the great blues artists, inckuding Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, Magic Sam, Earl Hooker, and Son Seals. Reed was once labelled as "the definitive Chicago blues sax player." Bonnie Raitt and Stevie Ray Vaughan were working hard to bring recognition to older blues musicians around the time this album was released. They make solid contributions to a strong effort by A.C. This is a good album by an artist who should be remembered for his huge contribution to the development of blues and electric blues music. Buy his great funky "Take These Blues and Shove 'Em" album. His two final solo albums – the 1998 "Junk Food" on Delmark and the 2002 "I Got Money" on the French Black And Blue label received critical acclaim and ensured Reed's status as a seminal Chicago blues figure. Give these great albums a listen and KEEP THE BLUES ALIVE!!

TRACKS / COMPOSERS (Where known)

I'm in the Wrong Business
I Can't Go on This Way
Fast Food Annie
This Little Voice [Reed]
My Buddy Buddy Friends
She's Fine [Reed]
These Blues Is Killing Me [Reed]
Miami Strut
The Things I Want You to Do
Don't Drive Drunk
Hard Times [Corthen]
Going to New York [Reed]
Moving Out of the Ghetto


A.C. Reed (vocals, tenor saxophone)
Bonnie Raitt (guitar, background vocals)
Stevie Ray Vaughan, Maurice John Vaughan, Marvin Jackson, "Triple Horn," Steve Ditzell, Larry Burton, Phil Guy (guitar)
Jimmy Markham (harmonica)
"George" (piano)
Freddie Dixon, Douglas Watson, Johnny B. Gayden, Nate Applewhite, Aron Burton (bass)
Casey Jones (drums)
Miranda Louise, Vicki Hardy (background vocals)


To hear tenor saxist A.C. Reed bemoan his fate onstage, one might glean the impression that he truly detests his job. But it's a tongue-in-cheek complaint -- Reed's raspy, gutbucket blowing and laidback vocals bely any sense of boredom. Sax-blowing blues bandleaders are scarce as hen's teeth in Chicago; other than Eddie Shaw, Reed's about all there is. Born in Missouri, young Aaron Corthen (whether he's related to blues legend Jimmy Reed remains hazy, but his laconic vocal drawl certainly mirrors his namesake) grew up in downstate Illinois. A big-band fan, he loved the sound of Paul Bascomb's horn on an obscure Erskine Hawkins 78 he heard tracking on a tavern jukebox so much that he was inspired to pick up a sax himself. Arriving in Chicago during the war years, he picked up steady gigs with Earl Hooker and Willie Mabon before the '40s were over. In 1956, he joined forces with ex-Ike Turner cohort Dennis "Long Man" Binder, gigging across the southwest for an extended period. Reed became a valuable session player for producer Mel London's Age and Chief labels during the early '60s; in addition to playing on sides by Lillian Offitt, Ricky Allen, and Hooker, he cut a locally popular 1961 single of his own for Age, amp;"This Little Voice." More gems for Age -- amp;"Come on Home," amp;"Mean Cop," amp;"I Stay Mad" -- followed. He cut 45s for USA in 1963 (amp;"I'd Rather Fight than Switch"), Cool (amp;"My Baby Is Fine," a tune he's recut countless times since) and Nike (amp;"Talkin' 'Bout My Friends") in 1966, and amp;"Things I Want You to Do" in 1969 for T.D.S. Reed joined Buddy Guy's band in 1967, visiting Africa with the mercurial guitarist in 1969 and, after harpist Junior Wells teamed with Guy, touring as opening act for the Rolling Stones in 1970. He left the employ of Guy and Wells for good in 1977, only to hook up with Alligator acts Son Seals and then the Master of the Telecaster, Albert Collins. Reed appeared on Collins's first five icy Alligator LPs, including the seminal Ice Pickin'. During his tenure with Collins, Reed's solo career began to reignite, with four cuts on the second batch of Alligator's Living Chicago Blues anthologies in 1980 and two subsequent LPs of his own, 1982's Take These Blues and Shove 'Em! (on Ice Cube Records, a logo co-owned by Reed and drummer Casey Jones) and I'm in the Wrong Business! five years later for Alligator (with cameos by Bonnie Raitt and Stevie Ray Vaughan). Until his death from cancer in February of 2004, Reed remained an active force on the Chicago circuit with his band, the Spark Plugs (get it? AC sparkplugs? Sure you do!). © Bill Dahl, All Music Guide


Born Aaron Corthen on May 9, 1926, in Wardell, Missouri and studied at Chicago Conservatory of Music. Moved to Chicago and took job in steel mill, 1942; began playing jazz and blues after work hours; performed in bands of Willie Mabon and Earl Hooker, late-1940s; toured with Dennis Binder's Rhythm All-Stars, 1950s; recorded numerous singles for small Chicago labels, 1960s; joined Buddy Guy band, 1967; with Guy and Junior Wells toured Europe with Rolling Stones, 1970; toured with Son Seals and Albert Collins, late-1970s; formed own band, the Sparkplugs; contributed four tracks to Living Chicago Blues anthology, 1980; released solo debut, Take These Blues and Shove 'Em, 1982; I'm in the Wrong Business!, 1987; toured extensively, early-1990s; released Junk Food, 1998. The saxophonist A.C. Reed stands out from the ordinary run of Chicago blues musicians in at least three respects. He formed and led a successful band of his own--something few saxophone players in the blues tradition have done. He was a classically-trained musician, having attended music school and aspired to a big-band career before he started to play the blues. And most distinctive of all is Reed's unique sense of humor. While many other blues musicians have incorporated humor into their music and stage presence, none has, like Reed, mined a comic vein rooted in a tongue-in- cheek dislike of blues music itself. Reed was born Aaron Corthen on May 9, 1926, in Wardell, Missouri in the state's southeastern boot heel; he took the name of Reed in emulation of his friend (and according to some accounts his cousin), Jimmy Reed. He grew up there and in nearby southern Illinois, and the family was musical; one brother played piano and another a handmade bass constructed from a wash tub. Reed himself was drawn to the saxophone after hearing records by swing saxophonists Jay McShann and Paul Bascomb. During World War II he joined the many thousands of other young African Americans who migrated north to take factory jobs. Landing in Chicago in 1942, Reed found work at a steel mill. He took his first paycheck to a pawnshop to buy a saxophone. A fan of jazz tenor sax player Gene Ammons, Reed set his sights on a jazz-band career and took courses at the Chicago Conservatory of Music. The rising style in Chicago at the time was not jazz but blues, however, and Reed began to sit in with blues musicians after a day's work at the steel mill. Saxophonist J. T. Brown of the Elmore James band showed him the ropes, and Reed, recalling Brown's influence in comments quoted on the website of the Alligator music label, offered a concise definition of the differences between jazz and blues. "The first thing he taught me," Reed said, "was to play less notes, play simpler and try to tell a story with my solos." It wasn't long before Reed was performing in South Side blues clubs with vocalist Willie Mabon and guitarist Earl Hooker. In the 1950s Reed toured with Dennis Binder's Rhythm & Blues All-Stars, performing for white college-age audiences across the nation's midsection in the same milieu that nurtured other rhythm-and-blues stars such as Ike & Tina Turner (with whom Binder had earlier been associated). Even Mabon had made a number of records that were rock and roll music in everything but name, and Reed was distinctly unimpressed by the rise of Elvis Presley and his cohorts. By the early 1960s Reed was an in-demand session player in Chicago's well-established blues recording industry, and, with a profusion of small record labels having sprung up in the city, was given a chance to record singles on his own from time to time. Recording for the Age, Nike, and T.D.S. labels, Reed enjoyed a modest hit with "Talkin' 'Bout My Friends" (1966). Some of his singles followed closely in the Jimmy Reed mold, but Reed began to find a voice of his own: in the words of blues historian Gérard Herzhaft, "'I Stay Mad' and the excellent 'My Buddy Buddy Friends' were pieces full of the disenchanted and caustic humor that was A. C.'s mark." In the late 1960s and 1970s Reed was an integral part of the electric blues scene that grew as an adjunct to big-name rock music. He joined the band of guitarist Buddy Guy--another likely source for Reed's subtle, self-mocking humor--in 1967, and when Guy and harmonica player Junior Wells joined forces as an opening act for the 1970 European tour of the Rolling Stones, Reed went with them. Reed remained with Guy and Wells until 1977, staying on the road after that with Son Seals and the showman guitarist Albert Collins, the self-proclaimed "Master of the Telecaster." Collins, who recorded for the Alligator record label, exemplified the beginnings of a third phase of electric blues that followed its homegrown Chicago roots and its phase of interaction with rock: blues as one of what New York Times writer Peter Watrous called "the rituals of good-time music." On breaks from tours with Collins, Reed began to see new possibilities in blues performances that were danceable and playful. He put together a band of his own, the Sparkplugs (the name referred to the popular AC automotive spark plug brand), and by 1980 had contributed four tracks to an Alligator series of releases called Living Chicago Blues that showcased emerging artists--which Reed, at the age of 54, had once again become. Reed's solo debut album, Take These Blues and Shove 'Em, released in 1982 on the Ice Cube label (co-owned by Reed), offered material that fit with the stage routine Reed had developed--that of a bluesman who had the blues about playing the blues, comically looking to more optimistic ways of making a living but completing the joke with virtuoso sax blasts that bespoke a veteran's enjoyment of what he was doing. Anticipating the hip-hop practice of releasing "clean" and unexpurgated versions of songs with raunchy or obscene lyrics, Reed released two versions of a single drawn from the album, "I Am Fed Up with This Music." That single earned Reed a W. C. Handy Award nomination for blues single of the year. With his 1987 release I'm in the Wrong Business!, Reed graduated to the Alligator label himself and enjoyed strong promotional support. The depth of affection that Reed commanded in the blues community was shown by the album's roster of guest stars, which included guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, vocalist Bonnie Raitt, and singer-guitarist Maurice Vaughn (with whom Reed also recorded a duet album, I Got Money). I'm in the Wrong Business! showcased Reed's own songwriting on numbers such as the autobiographical "These Blues Is Killing Me." For several years after the release of I'm in the Wrong Business! Reed was a fixture of the blues-club circuit. He retired briefly in the 1990s, but he kept writing songs and resurfaced in 1998 with the album Junk Food, featuring Albert Collins and released on the Delmark label. The album showed Reed in fine songwriting form as he neared the end of his sixth decade of professional music making; it mixed Reed's trademark themes with new observations on subjects ranging from the saxophone-playing U.S. president Bill Clinton ("The President Plays") to weight-loss entrepreneur Florine Mark ("Florine"). © James M. Manheim, © 2008 Answers Corporation. All rights reserved, www.answers.com/topic/a-c-reed-1