James Cotton has played with a remarkable collection of blues greats, not only that but he has lived the blues. Here he is in later life in the company of some of the recent crop of young pretenders. Great stuff for anyone who has a love of the blues.
I saw James at the San Francisco Blues Festival a few years ago and he was amazing, as soon as one number finished he immediately started playing the introduction to the next one, he hardly seemed to stop playing the whole time he was on stage. However, since winning his battle with throat cancer in the mid-90s he has concentrated on just playing harp and left the singing to other members of his band and on this record a series of high-profile guests including Gregg Allman, Joe Bonamassa, Keb Mo, Delbert McClinton, Ruthie Foster and Warren Haynes handle the vocals. Although the final track 'Bonnie Blue' does feature James singing along with Colin Linden's resonator guitar and is very moving and one of the album's best tracks.
The album was produced by Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi and George Thorogood & the Destroyers) and features new songs specially written for James by Hambridge, Gary Nicholson and Richard Fleming. James' harp sounds great throughout and he certainly goes for it on the mainly uptempo collection of songs, on the title track his harp has a particularly dirty sound and blends well with Joe Bonamassa's excellent lead guitar. The rocking train blues 'Midnight train' with Gregg Allman also works well and I did like the two more laid-back songs by Keb Mo which provide a bit of variety and allow James to stretch out, there's also nice piano from Chuck Leavell and bass from Glenn Worf. Laid-back is one thing 'Wrapped around my heart' isn't, although it's a slow blues Ruthie Foster really rips it up and makes this another of the album's highlights. James certainly isn't growing old gracefully - he shows that as a 77-year old he can still cut it and really rock it out!