True North (label)
25 November 2016 (released)
30 October 2016
What a belting album! Simply terrific.
Colin James has around 15 albums under his belt but this is one of the freshest and most dynamic things I’ve heard in ages – not the album of a man churning out yet another.
He kicks off with a powerful and fast paced boogie – Freddie King’s ‘Boogie Funk’ - wailing harmonica and guitar licks aplenty and then proceeds to go through a repertoire of Blues in all its forms. The album features songs by the masters – Peter Green, Don Nix, Muddy Waters, William Bell, Robert Johnson Blind Willie McTell and many more – but the album feels like a Colin James album, not a bunch of Blues covers.
‘Watch Out’ reminds me of Peter Green at his best (well he wrote it after all), soft shuffle in the beat and some gorgeous picking set against dense Hammond. His vocals are clean and passioned but the playing - a superb organ solo from Simon Kendall and great bass and drums from Steve Pelletier and Geoff Hicks - and his guitar are what the track is about.
‘Bad Bad Whiskey’ just presents what the Blues is all about, no outrageous riffery or 9 minute solos, just a simple tale of degradation and failure set against some delightful harp and simply played dobro.
Even when he plays a well worn road with Don Nix’s ‘Going Down’ he still manages to capture excitement and verve.
This could so easily have been yet another Blues album, the type of thing you hear every weekend at the local pub or bar where players with a – very - little skill try and show off to wives and girlfriends. Instead he has kicked me into listening to the classics afresh .
He has the chops and he definitely has the experience but it is clear that he also has a love for the Blues and this is definitely one of the best around at the moment.