James Cotton: It Was a Very Good Year

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Blues & Rock/Rythm & Blues
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opakowanie: Jewelcaseowe etui

Editor's info:
That this CD exists at all is a happy tribute to both modern technology and good old-fashioned perseverance.When we originally reviewed these tapes in 1995, five short years ago, we were somewhat hobbled by the recording quality of the originals, especially by today's standards. As well, a certain inevitable deterioration thirty years since their making added to the daunting nature of the task.For all the fine cuts we had on the first two CD's, much equally good material had painfully to be relegated to the sidelines. Despite our best efforts and enthusiasm, this material has had to languish in obscurity these past four years awaiting technical solutions.Fortunately, generational leaps in audio technology in recent years permitted a revaluation of the remaining material. New restoration technology, only months old as we write this, renewed our optimism as we once more delved through the tapes.That optimism has not been without foundation. The results are all we had hoped for.Once again, we feature a broad selection of tunes R&B, soul, even a touch of jazz - reflecting well James' own eclectic bent. The sidemen open with our title tune, "It Was A Very Good Year," a song more associated with Vegas than with your average blues bar. This sultry latinized version, however, was built about the stylings of piano man Albert Gianquinto, and was more Santana, with whom he would later play, than Sinatra. It also serves as the perfect vehicle to introduce, by contrast, the high-powered Cotton.James gets on board via Junior Parker's hit for the Sun label, "Mystery Train," a number covered by artists as disparate as Elvis Presley and Paul Butterfield. Here it gets the type of lively, inventive treatment that made James' music so audience friendly, the harp and vocal effects evoking images of old steam engines and lovers moving on.More bounce follows on Sonny Boy Williamson's "She's My Baby," a number James picked up from his early mentor and which would remain in his repertoire for many years. Next, a Cotton original, "One More Mile," which James taught to Paul Butterfield who later popularized it. The association of Butterfield's own tragic life with this song adds a particular poignancy to this darkly elemental blues, whose lyrics contrast so sharply with the upbeat performances and style so associated with the Cotton band.Then, it's off to Motown for Marvin Gaye's monster hit "How Sweet It Is;" a standard tune for many R&B bands of the day. The special touch here comes from a rollicking piano background a la Albert, with Francis Clay getting in some of his hottest licks of the night.A highly soulful version of Otis Rush's big hit "I Can't Quit You Baby" leads into the B.B. King classic "Sweet Sixteen." Featuring some kickass solo work by guitarist Luther Tucker, it also finds James at the top of his vocal form in the shouting style he had down so well. As he so often would during a performance, James strolls into the audience at the end of this number singing one on one in the crowd. This was one of the personal touches that characterized James' whole approach to performing, his own golden rule - love your audience.Then, back on stage for "The Midnight Creeper," a number loosely based on Little Walter Jacobs' "Juke." What used to be an outro or set-ender with Muddy Waters' band now becomes a show-stopping vehicle for the group's musical prowess and offbeat humor. It was a number that often ran half a set of zaniness mixed with a dollop or two of brilliance, each night performed with a new twist which made it that much more interesting for the regulars.To the basics once more, with a faithful rendering of Muddy Waters' famous "Hoochie Coochie Man," which James had so often played with Muddy himself, before wrapping up the set with another Little Walter piece, "You're So Fine."I would be hard-pressed to find a more aptly titled tune to end this series, for James and his audience were truly a mutual admiration society. I might personally add my own tribute by mentioning that in all these years of following his long and varied career, I have never seen James deliver less than his all, to audiences large or small, good or bad.They were all James' friends.Each night he would bring them a fresh show, no small feat when considering the six weeks of dates the band played in Montreal that year of years for us all.Ironically, that same total devotion to his fans has, with the passage of time, cost James dearly. His vocals are now severely curtailed, and he can no longer perform much of this material. Fortunately, his own eclectic nature has helped him bend like the very reeds he blows, and his constantly evolving style continues to garner award after award, as well as new friends and fans everywhere.For them, and for us older fans his young voice has once again been resurrected here, and these tunes added to the Cotton legacy.That is one of this series' happiest achievements.Michael Nerenberg
Bobby Anderson: bass
Francis Clay: drums
James Cotton: harmonica and voice
Albert Gianquinto: piano
Luther Tucker: guitar

01 It Was A Very Good Year 3:55 ; 02 Mystery Train 4:26 ; 03 She's My Baby 2:35 ; 04 One More Mile 3:13 ; 05 How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) 3:43 ; 06 I Can't Quit You Baby 3:43 ; 07 Sweet Sixteen 7:18 ; 08 Midnight Creeper 8:03 ; 09 Hoochie Coochie Man 4:03 ; 10 You're So Fine 5:49
wydano: 02/2001
nagrano: 28 Wrzesień 1967
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Just a Memory Rec. (CA)
James Cotton
It Was a Very Good Year
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