The music featured here is actually all right, but the set suffers due to its odd patchwork assembly. Five of the tracks come from a 1963 acoustic session recorded at an apartment on the South Side, featuring Elvin Bishop on guitar, Cotton on vocals and harmonica, Paul Butterfield on harmonica, and Billy Boy Arnold on harmonica (hence the title 3 Harp Boogie). The other four selections are taken from his 1967 Verve album James Cotton Blues Band, available in its entirety on the Best of the Verve Years compilation. That means you probably only want this for the rarer acoustic cuts, which are good, but a short value for a CD purchase unless you’re a very big Cotton fan. Again, though, there’s nothing wrong with the music itself.
Born: July 1, 1935 in Tunica, MS
Years Active: ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, ’10s
At his high-energy, 1970s peak as a bandleader, James Cotton was a bouncing, sweaty, whirling dervish of a bluesman, roaring his vocals and all but sucking the reeds right out of his defenseless little harmonicas with his prodigious lung…