Friday, October 30, 2015

James Cotton It Was A Very Good Year

James Cotton
It Was A Very Good Year
Just a Memory JAM 9144-2

It Was a Very Good Year/ Mystery Train/ She’s My Baby/ One More Mile/ How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)/ I Can’t Quit You Baby/ Sweet Sixteen/ Midnight Creeper/ Hootchie Cootchie Man/ You’re So Fine. 46:55.

Cotton, vcl, hca, Albert Gianquinto, p; Luther Tucker,g; Bobby Anderson, b; Francis Clay, d. September 28, 1967. Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

This is the third disc deriving from live performances by the James Cotton band at the New Penelope Cafe in Montreal in September 1967 on Just a Memory. These must be among the last performances by the Cotton band with Albert Gianquinto on piano. This writer saw Cotton and his band in Cleveland in early Fall 1967 (possibly a week or two after the engagement which produced this recording), by which time a saxophone had replaced pianist Gianquinto. In any event , this was one of Cotton’s best bands and if this recording lacks the highest of fidelity (the drums are too prominent), the sound is acceptable. 

1967 may well have been a very good year in Montreal with Expo ‘67, but the title track is a feature for Gianquinto’s jazzy piano before the band brings Cotton up to the stage. There is a nice mix of songs from Cotton as he opens up with Jr. Parker’s “Mystery Train” before tackling Sonny Boy Williamson’s “She’s My Baby” which Cotton had recorded as “Sugar Sweet,” and his own “One More MIle”. The inclusion of Marvin Gaye’s Motown hit “How Sweet It Is,” is an indication that the boundaries between blues and soul were not as demarcated as some find today. 

Luther Tucker’s guitar is spectacular on Cotton’s solo rendition of Otis Rush’s “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” and the lengthy “Sweet Sixteen” where he really stretches out. Cotton has the lengthy “Midnight Creeper” to showcase his harmonica mastery. Cotton also sings here as well as he ever did and the level of the music supports the memory of this being a great blues band. Incidentally, the closing “You’re So Fine,” is erroneously credited to Little Walter. It is a reworking of the Johnny Otis song that was a hit for the Fiestas.

This review was written in 2001 and likely published in Cadence from whom I likely received a review copy. I had previously reviewed another CD "Seems Like Yesterday" from this engagement, and it was posted back in 2012. Here is Cotton and band from 1967 doing "Off The Wall."

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