Mind Your Love was the 16th studio album country musician Jerry Reed made with RCA records. Released in 1975, the album came at a moment when Reed’s musical output was about to step into the background somewhat. This was the year when he debuted in his first cinematic role. But does Mind Your Love deserve a place among his best-regarded material, or is it simply a throwaway product playing second fiddle to his newly burgeoning career?
1975 saw Jerry Reed make the leap into acting. He had gained nationwide prominence following a string of Country hits and regular appearances on television on shows such as The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, Hee Haw, The Porter Wagoner Show, etc.
It could be said that 1975 was Jerry Reed’s year. He seemed to be everywhere, moving into a more mature role within the entertainment industry, launching various different projects including a stab at his own late night television show with musical and chat elements. He first joined forces with Burt Reynolds, who would be forever regarded as one of his long-time collaborators and friends. And yet, with all these other “irons in the fire”, it could be expected that his first discipline, music, might suffer.
In this album however, perusing the track listing in order to refresh my memory ahead of recording my thoughts and impressions, as a long-time fan of Mr Reed, it is clear that he really could do it all. As a fan of 20+ years, I can freely admit that as the 70s waned on and then into the 80s, his albums do in hindsight feel less strong, they become a little more generic feeling in some places. Although this may also be attributed to the changing face and sound of the country music genre in general, as much as to Mr Reed’s absorption into the world of motion pictures.
Mind Your Love is strong. The track listing, as can be seen below, is solid to say the least. This album is Jerry Reed. Six of the ten tracks are self-penned, a whopping three of which are instrumentals in his customary mind-blowing mould. May I add the aside that at this time, he was still appearing on television to perform such complex numbers as Lightning Rod… live…
The opening title track is a bouncy, characteristically funky, lyrically sound number which can get stuck in your head for days. We work through the tracks from Side A towards trademark novelty number The Telephone in which Reed offers a stellar vocal performance as a curmudgeonly version of himself growing increasingly frustrated with the telephone company. Although this one was not penned by Reed himself, it still fits the cheeky, character-filled mould he had already established in the late 1960s.
The last track from the first side of the vinyl pressing is actually a number featured in his first movie outing, WW and the Dixie Dancekings, although it isn’t the same recording. For me personally, although the movie version of A Friend definitely has its own charm, Reed’s own studio rendition sits slightly higher. It allows for his own freer musical expression and interpretation, without being constrained by the retro context of the movie.
Side B’s lineup is dominated by the three instrumental offerings, which are all as strong as any he wrote and recorded previously or subsequently. If there’s one thing that most people who are familiar with Mr Reed can probably agree on, it’s the virtuosity, dexterity, beauty and downright competence of his instrumental composition for and performance on the guitar. Therefore I need say little more here. If you haven’t explored Reed’s instrumental catalogue, I vehemently recommend that you do so at your soonest convenience.
The other two tracks are covers. However as usual, Jerry manages to make them his own. When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again could seem very throwaway and by-numbers. Only, Mr Atkins can also be heard on the recording, openly referred to and encouraged in one of Reed’s trademark cheeky ad-libs. And Bad, Bad Leroy Brown should also be run of the mill, whereas it is actually laden with funk and a driving energy which I would love to see even the most reserved of persons resist moving to.
Mind Your Love was co-produced by longtime producer, collaborator, mentor and friend of Jerry, Chet Atkins, and Reed himself. I think this is one factor which really elevated this release. After all, it presumably afforded Reed more freedom of expression and autonomy to record what he felt, to follow his own artistic instincts more closely. Yet with the master keeping his guiding hand loosely over proceedings, it keeps it from straying at all into self-indulgence.
- Mind Your Love
- City of New Orleans
- Let’s Sing Our Song
- The Telephone
- A Friend
- Lightning Rod
- Bad, Bad Leroy Brown
- Grab Bag
- When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again
It is hard to sum up an album which I personally hold in such high regard. However, in future reviews of Reed albums, I know my opinion will be less glowing. As an ardent fan since the age of 11, I love this album. But as a country music fan who also appreciates rock, pop, swing and even some light opera at times, I can honestly say this album is well worth a listen to anyone who enjoys energetic, fun, hot country music.
Maybe to the uninitiated, this would be a rude awakening and you should perhaps start with something more introductory, like 1978’s Sweet Love Feelings, or 1968’s Nashville Underground. But if you’re wondering, did Jerry Reed make any great music after his runaway hit When You’re Hot, You’re Hot? Was he still knocking it out of the park musically when he started making those movies with Burt Reynolds? Mind Your Love is the definitive answer: most definitely!