These days it is common for artists to play on one and other’s releases, it provides a great opportunity for artistic cooperation and it allows an artist to share the spotlight with others whom he respects and admires.
With that being said check out this release which features the likes of Chuck Leavell, Gregg Allman, Ruthie Foster, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo, Colin Linden, Delbert McClinton and more – that in itself is worth the price of admission then add the production and ferocious drumming (and excellent songwriting) of Tom Hambridge and you got an all-start concert right here on your iPod, iPad, computer et al. But this is not just an all-star gathering, we also get to hear James work with his excellent road band which consists of Tom Holland, Jerry Porter, Noel Neal and aforementioned Darrell Nullisch.
Straight from the first track this release drives right to the soul of the blues and the man who’s name is on the release. ‘Cotton Mouth Man’ starts with a rocking rhythm and goes for the throat with Darrell Nullisch singing lead to some stunning harp attack by the master himself. A deep biographical tune, we get the tour of Mr. Cotton’s trail to today. As (one of the many) guest guitarist Joe Bonamassa sets fire to the fretboard with his own identifiable style and the harp work by Mr. Cotton is both a lesson on how to play and how to REALLY play!
Back to the disc, Mr. Allman offers up some throw back vocals on ‘Midnight Train’ as former Allman Brother keyboardist extraordinaire Chuck Leavell rolls those eighty-eights with a verve and finesse that serves up a solid groove – and when Mr. cotton blows that railroad train styled harp we are at once transported to riding the rails and understanding it’s relationship to the blues harp through out history.
Slowing it down to feature Mr. Keb Mo on vocals we get served a big dish of ‘Mississippi Mud’. There is an understated excellence to Keb’s vocal presentations that might seem so easy to come by but upon listening reveals that if it were this easy then many more would be copping to that fact. The pairing of Mr. Mo and Mr. Cotton provides us with some fine enjoyment as the roll on into the heat and pace of the deep south Blues.
There is not a soft track on this release, and while it is tempting to cover each and every track (because they are all worth the spotlight) I will just hi-light just one more that seems to me a special track. ‘Bonnie Blue’ is the name of the cotton plantation where James was born. Featuring Mr. Colin Linden playing deep soulful resonator guitar while Mr. Cotton steps up to the microphone to sing his own personal thoughts on his birthplace. Think about what this means and says folks, step away from the keyboard and cell phones – listen and ingest what Mr. cottons is singing about and his his own personal path. It is a wonderful and very personal song and it’s reaches straight to your soul.
Thank you Bruce Iglauer, for this release and for providing Mr. Cotton with a world wide network by which his music can be heard. This release is a perfect portrait of an amazing artist and his life’s work and toil. BTW this release hits the streets on May 7, 2013, be the first to grab it and play it loud and proud!
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
Where Blues Thrives
Photos: Courtesy of artists