Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Blues, Pop
A member of the Blues Hall of Fame and one of the greatest harmonica players the world has ever known, James 'Superharp' Cotton learned to play harmonica at an early age from none other than Sonny Boy Williamson. By the ti... more »
A member of the Blues Hall of Fame and one of the greatest harmonica players the world has ever known, James 'Superharp' Cotton learned to play harmonica at an early age from none other than Sonny Boy Williamson. By the time he had reached the ripe old age of 17 he had already cut 4 songs for Sun Records and had his own radio show! Then in 1954 blues legend Muddy Waters famously offered him a spot in his band and Cotton went on to play with Muddy for 12 years. His first record as bandleader, however, was not released until 1967, on Verve. Pure Cotton, also on Verve, was released the following year and here Cotton, age 33, finally gets a chance to stretch out and be himself (meaning, he gets down and dirty and plays that harp like his ass was on fire, sometimes even blowing the keys out of the instrument)! Lilith Records. 2007.
Bertrand Stclair | new york, new york United States | 11/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You should be warned: some of the tracks do not sound absolutely pristine, and I suspect there is a possibility that this is simply a recording of the LP. I'm not sure about this, because an excellent effort at mastering has been done anyway - the vocals, particularly, are clear and better isolated, and the dynamics on the whole are much greater. Still, you will get some fuzz - the CD, unavailable locally, was produced somewhere in Europe, and finished - in Russia! It's kind of amusing to get a page that seems to be a translation of the same page in English, talking about James Cotton in Russian. That said, should you own this, warts and all? If a) you do not own the LP; b) your LP is in execrable state; or c) you own a perfect LP but have chucked your turntable, convinced you'd never need it again - the answer is YES. This sadly overlooked and much underrated effort from Cotton's years with Verve (if you look up his discography in such places as Wikipedia, it won't even be listed) is actually a little gem. For those who do not know James Cotton, be advised: these are not rural blues, these are not "blue blues." This is one bouncy, joyful, rollicking ride that Cotton customarily conveyed in his live performances, full of street-smart wisecracks and late sixties' urban jive, epitomized in the wonderful and hilarious "Who's Afraid of Little Red Riding Hood." The album is distinguished by the band's fine, inventive playing, as well as the excellent production, rare in blues recordings of the time -- listen, for instance, to the subtle support lent by the organ on "I Remember," playing chords discreetly behind the piano, until, suddenly, it's the organ's time to step up front. The guitar work is quite unique, reminiscent of spontaneous, from-the-hip bursts of something born out of country's mandolin melodies, a style that is the antithesis of the faster-than-light but not necessarily expressive playing (mostly by white "guitar gods") that had by then become all the rage. Cotton lets his cohorts take care of the vocals on several cuts, which adds variety and the atmosphere of happy teamwork to the proceedings, but he makes it abundantly clear who's at the helm with "The Creeper," one of his signature pieces, a 6-minutes-plus virtuoso harmonica showpiece that combines searing key-blowouts with coy interludes such as a five-second reference to "Jingle Bells." As harp attacks go, it doesn't get any better. By contrast, the last song, "Down at Your Buryin'", a slow, eerily sparse blues, sounds positively creepy. With menacing lyrics ("I'll be down at your buryin,' ridin' round in my V-8 Ford - woman, you think you so smart, but I declare that you don't know") and jazzy swatches of harp over a constant bass line that is a threat in itself, this is blues that'll haunt you. It's only after several hearings that you'll notice how cleverly it transforms the basic twelve-bar blues progression into something entirely new. Highly recommended."
The Sweetest Sounds From A Premier Lineup....
T. A. Linker | Maui, Hawai'i | 08/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can recall bringing this album home to a houseful of musicians and having them blown away...playing it front to back...over and over again. The band I was with at the time, 1967 or so, was a four piece that included Bass, drums, gutar and harp. Up until the relaese of Pure Cotton, we were all staunch supporters of B.B. King, Albert King, Jonnny Guitar Watson, Little Walter, Sonny Boy,Slim Harpo, Wolf and Muddy, and of course, The Butterfield Blues Band. Although, as a harp player and vocalist I naturally leaned towards the modern, uptown Chicago sounds of Butterfield and Cotton, but had a deep appreciation for guitar, keyboards and tight arrangments Pure Cotton delivered on all fronts. This album has it all: the tastiest keboards ever; solid and soulful drumming; bass lines that defied convention; scorching, melodic guitar; and the huge, fat tone of James Cotton's harp in a variety of positions and tonal colors. His vocals were strong and commanding, dynamic and deep blue on one cut, then raucous and gritty on the next. This album is a source point for all that was to follow. In a time when the British Invasion was topping the charts, bluesmen like Cotton and Company were reworking classics from rock, blues and jazz into a soulful ensamble sound that was at once urgent, potent and earthy. I'm still blowing harp and playing the occaisional gig and I can't wait to put this CD on and crank it up for The Creeper! If ou love these blues, consider this CD essential. Use it whilst cruising the avenue or at home with friends. This is the kind of recording that provides good production, great material and arrangements, and idividual and collective musicianship second to none. When this album was first released, most everyone I knew was all in a buzz. Three decades later and Pure Cotton still sounds fresh and compelling. One of the ten best blues albums of all time. Buy it now!"