Lord, Mr. Ford
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Pemberton Roach [allmusic.com]
Lord, Mr. Ford is a fairly typical Jerry Reed album, which is to say it's filled with jaw-dropping guitar playing, excellent songs, and warm, rugged vocal performances. As usual, Reed alternates between countrypolitan ballads which showcase his smooth baritone vocal style and the ultra-funky swamp pop hybrid that he virtually created. Of course, those who know Reed's music well understand that he is equally at home with both these genres; his unwillingness to be pigeonholed has always at once somewhat limited his mainstream appeal and won him the undying devotion of a particularly loyal core fan base. The big hit here was the title track, a semi-political song written by the great hippie country songwriter Dick Feller. Reed's version is appropriately crotchety considering the song's ''simple working man'' theme, but it's amusing to hear notorious bad boy Reed forced to substitute the word ''trick'' for the original version's ''bitch.'' The vocalist completely reinvents the Johnny Cash standard ''Folsom Prison Blues'' by employing an intensely rhythmic, New York City-style disco beat (several years before that craze hit), complete with Latin percussion. To top it off, Reed rips into a Discipline-era Robert Fripp-esque repeating guitar figure that sounds almost exactly like an African thumb piano. In addition, the album contains two of Jerry Reed's most beautiful guitar instrumentals and ''One Sweet Reason,'' (another Feller composition), which features one of his most sensitive vocal performances. Overall, though Jerry Reed doesn't offer a lot of surprises here considering his always-varied output, Lord, Mr. Ford stands as one of the high points of his catalog and is a must-have for anyone interested in left-of-center country music.