James Cotton

James Cotton

Alligator Records B003X413KQ

By A.J. Wachtel
December 2010

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Generally speaking, no one plays harp like James Cotton. His Sonny Boy Williamson II inspired licks are captivating as ever. “Superharp” is always interesting and his masterful technique reminds the listener of both long gone music eras and future continuations of the foundations of this great genre. Like the passing of the torch to new generations of fans, his music is timeless and one can easily hear the influences of his long association with Muddy Waters.

Backed with a powerfully tight band, led by long time associate Noel Neal on bass and his brother Kenny Jr.on drums, this new product starts in high gear and never lets up. There are Cotton originals, instrumentals like “With The Quickness” giving a rockabilly feel , and “Blues For KoKo” showcases Cotton's strengths. I really love when he squeals those high notes. There are also Muddy covers like “Sad Sad Day”, “Find Yourself Another Fool” and “Going Down Main Street”, where his thoughtful and powerful playing is inspirational. One almost expects to hear Muddy's own voice sing the vocals instead of the more then capable Slam Allen and Tom Holland. These two also do all the guitar work on the CD and at times, their B.B. King inspired leads are breathtaking.

Cotton also gets funky on “Change” and “Let Yourself Go”, and when Cotton gets funky your feet start moving. The group also does a killer version of that sweet 50's tune, “Since I Lost My Baby” that is as listenable , in a more bluesy way, as the original. This CD is as good as it gets in the 21st century and it's a pleasure to see that this 75 year old icon still has a lot to say.

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