john harrelson’s, ‘cottonmouth revelator’, a cd review

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my friend, john harrelson, is indeed back in the saddle again with his latest cd release, ‘cottonmouth revelator’.  boy howdy, if you like the blues then this cd is a must have.  john has gone back to his blues roots for some of the best blues i’ve heard in long time.  this cd takes me back to the late 60’s and back to when the great blues bands traveled the land. it also reminds me of why that music was so good and still is so damn good.  real blues and real country.  ain’t nothin’ better than pure american music.

i suppose i could just copy the liner notes written by his executive producer and old hard luck boy roadie, john neiuber, because john does a great job setting up the cd.  but i’m not gonna do that. i’ll just ramble along as usual and see what happens.

‘i want your ass’ is an old harrelson standard and it shows up here with a fire and polish i haven’t heard before.  the tune is one of my favorite harrelson songs that’s played with gusto and humor at all of his live gigs.  it’s nice to see it here with john and jeff ross kickin’ out some fine guitar licks along with john’s whiskey growl that make this his best version of that classic harrelson song.  speaking of great ass.  i love the photo and accompanying tattoo on the cd’s cover.

how about some ‘bar-b-que’?  yeah, bbq.  a great song done in the old spoken blues tradition sorta the original rap.  but much much better.  john gives the song a wonderful old feel with a sadly politically in correct these days kingfish style monologue.  a tune right out of guitarist jeff ross’ little bbq book.  though mike krevis is playing on this song.  jeff has a passion for bbq and has a book filled with notes about all the bbq joints he’s eaten in over the years.  john has nailed that bbq passion in this wonderfully funny classic blues song.

other harrelson originals include, ‘fire and gasoline’ a wonderful harrelson song.  ‘redeeming angel’ another favorite of mine.  ‘sugar’ with a killer vocal from john.  ‘whose little sister?’, yeah, who’s?.  sexy and sweet.  ‘looking for you’, ‘i want to teach you french’, the title says it all.  ‘independent woman’, great lyrics and guitar work.  the song reminds me of old paul butterfield stuff.  ‘talk dirty to me’ and ‘love among lovers’.      

along with the eleven harrelson originals there’s three re-makes of all-time classic blues tunes.  robert johnson’s ‘crossroads’ gets a fine treatment with john’s vocals and jeff and john’s guitars.  also a fine rendition of b. b. king’s ‘worried life blues’ filled with kickin’ guitar and john’s sweet vocal.  then there’s one of my favorites on the cd.  muddy waters’, ‘long distance call’.  holy crap, momma, lock up the kids.  this is what the blues are all about.  those three songs bring john’s passion for the genre right up front and center, then he slaps you up side the head with it.  shit don’t get much better.  trust me.

‘cottonmouth revelator’ is for any blues lover and/or fan.  it’s john harrelson back to where he started, singing and playing the blues.  singing and playing with a passion you don’t see from many performers these days.  musicianship, passion, style, polish, and wit all sum up this cd from john. 

john harrelson is known in these parts for his raw gutsy style.  tell you what, this cd is raw and gutsy but with a polish and style that i haven’t heard from john before.  ‘cottonmouth revelator’ could only have come from a life of living and loving the blues.  john harrelson has lived that life.  sure nuff.  the music here is testament to the love of his life, the blues.   

oh, yeah.  be sure to let it keep tracking when it’s all over.  john lays out some fine acoustic bottleneck that’s worth the wait.

john is joined by his usual band on this cd along with some other stellar folks as well.  brian chapman, bass. steph kuhn, drums.  jeff ross, guitar and bottleneck.  dr roland avalon, upright bass.  k. r. ehmmann, tenor sax.  dj alverson, bass.  mike krevis, guitar.  steve ross, drums.  c mccormick, bass.  a waddington, drums.  kid cadillac, baritone, sax.  e moultrie, backing vocals.  r donofrio, bass.  and of course, john harrelson, vocals, guitar, bottleneck, harmonica, piano, and organ.  john has had some fine line-ups in the past.  however, for my money, this one is his best.        

tell you what, my friend, thanks for the music.  again.  this one sure does hit some notes.  really really sweet notes. 

buy this cd and crank it up loud.  very loud.  you’ll be glad you did.  rock ‘n’ roll.

john passed away 6/26/13. hopefully, he’s in a better place. RIP, john.



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