Greetings from Asheville. Today’s Classic Album Review takes us back a few years in two ways. Jerry Reed and Lord Mr. Ford.
When I first wrote this post, around 2010 or 2011; I noted at the time that it was our first Classic Album Review request. It came from one of our Twitter followers, at the time, whose username was Jaybirdhall. I searched Twitter, this evening, to see if he was still active; unfortunately, he is gone from Twitter.
Released in June 1973, Lord Mr. Ford became one of the biggest selling albums of the summer. It climbed as high as 4 on the Billboard Country Album chart. The title track was also the album’s sole single. The song “Lord Mr. Ford” would also be one of the biggest hits in country music, that summer. In the first week of August, it held number one in all three of the major charts; Billboard, Cashbox, and Record World.
The title track is also the opening track. It speaks to anyone who has ever sat behind the wheel of any motor vehicle. We have all thought this at one time or another, let’s admit it. And it’s a fun rocking song, too.
From there, we move into a rocking version of the Johnny Cash classic, “Folsom Prison Blues”. I really like this version. Some serious country-rock, right here, led by the always flawless guitar playing of Reed, along with fellow guitarists Paul Yandell and Pete Wade. This is one of the standout tracks on this album.
To some, the ballad “Rainbow Ride” may sound gushy and overproduced, but I disagree. A style that fit in perfectly in 1973 country, that No, it’s not the best track on the disc, but it’s one of the very good ones. It shows off Reed’s often underrated vocal ability. And credit Reed and Atkins for an arrangement that is full, including strings, but stops short of becoming sappy.
“Two-Timin’” is an instrumental showing off Reed’s guitar ability. There’s no question who country’s greatest guitar player of all time is, Chet Atkins. That said, Jerry Reed would merit a strong argument for number two. Here, the Chet Atkins (who produced the album) influence on Reed’s style is quite apparent.
Jerry gives his take on the old pop classic, “That Lucky Old Sun (Just Rolls Around Heaven All Day)”. Previously a hit for Frankie Laine, Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin, and Vaughn Monroe, among others. Jerry gives a country-rock treatment to this classic that is worlds apart from the others. For example, Frankie Laine sang it as a slower ballad. I like it.
Side 2 begins with “You Can’t Keep Me Here in Tennessee”. Many of Jerry Reed’s records are a stout mix of country and rock. This track also shows off a bit of blues styling that often gets overlooked in his work
“The Lady Is A Woman” is a ballad, but still with tempo. This is also the purest country sound on the disc. It gets the full Nashville Sound treatment; heavy strings, and a strong dose of steel guitar. Maybe the only song ever written, where a rich man’s chauffeur chides him for the way he treats his wife. A steady, decent track, but not one to likely stand out to most listeners.
With Jerry Reed, one good instrumental is never enough. The album’s second instrumental track appears on side 2, “Pickie Pickie Pickie”. Again, flawless guitar playing by Mr. Reed, in his rocking country style.
“One Sweet Reason” is a decent track. Lush instrumentation and perhaps some of the best lyrics found on the disc.
As one would expect, some more rocking country to end the disc. Jerry blasts through the Glenn Sutton-penned “I’m Gonna Write A Song”. On these last two tracks, it seems to me there’s a slight difference in Reed’s vocals from the other eight. It should be noted that these two tracks were recorded during the same session. Perhaps he was slightly under the weather. Still, any vocal variation isn’t overly noticeable and doesn’t detract from the performances. Not a bad track to close the album.
As noted earlier, Chet Atkins was the producer of the album. Jerry recorded the ten tracks during multiple sessions during the January to April period in early 1973.
Lord Mr. Ford was initially released on vinyl, cassette, and 8-track. Besides regular stereo vinyl, RCA Victor also issued it on their ill-fated quadriphonic disc. When I first wrote this post back in ’10 or ’11, I noted that this album wasn’t available on CD, except as a package deal with another Reed release, Hot A Mighty. However, at some point, it has been issued as a solo CD, besides to its continued availability as an MP3 download.
If it’s a vinyl copy you prefer, then here’s what to look for. The Goldmine publication lists a near-mint value of $15 for the regular issue. $50 for the scarcer quadriphonic ones. In the 1980’s, the album was reissued on the budget Pickwick label. That version has little value (less than $15). Used vinyl copies seem to be going between $5 and $13 on eBay and Amazon, depending on condition.
Overall, this is a very good album. It’s an interesting mix of country, rock, blues, as well as what we call “The Nashville Sound”. Jerry Reed is one of the few artists who could pull off that type of mix. Besides the variances in styling, the songwriting is consistently very good. Some of the songwriters contributing to this disc, besides Reed himself are Johnny Cash, the aforementioned Glenn Sutton, and Dick Feller. One track, “You Can’t Keep Me Here in Tennessee”, came from a then-largely unknown Rodney Crowell.
I don’t say this enough, here. But as always, I’d love to hear your opinion of this, or any other album that I’ve reviewed. Simply leave a message in the comment section. Plus, let me know if there’s a classic country album that you’d like me to review, as well. Remember, it must be older than 2000, and of course, country.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, model railroader, lover of vintage agriculture, and big sports fan, including the Colts, Reds, Hurricanes, Pacers, Purdue & Butler Universities. He has collected records since childhood, focusing on classic country and top 40 oldies music. He convinced Vincennes University to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting. He’s worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.