“Life Couldn't Be Any Sweeter” rides James' gritty slide work and some greasy sax with some timeless tinkling from veteran sideman Henry Gray, who also played with Howlin' Wolf as well as Billy Boy Arnold and a slew of others. The duo twice pay tribute to the great Bo Diddley, doing a remarkable job of recreating his signature rhythmic style on “Dearest Darling.”
One of the finest moments comes when James, Rynn, and pianist David Maxwell slow things down on “You Can't Trust Nobody.” Maxwell's piano sounds like it was pulled from a saloon from one of those classic Westerns. Rynn swaps to an upright bass and locks in with Maxwell, allowing James to ride the top with his guitar and vocal. Another highlight is the punishing instrumental, “H.M. Stomp.” The rhythm section of drummer Eddie Kobek, Gray, and Rynn creates a deep, dirty pocket for James and harp man Bob Corritore. And Corritore cuts through that beautiful murk, making his notes shake like the great Walter Horton did for so many years.
Otis Spann released an album in 1966 called The Blues Is Where It's At. That was true then and Gonna Boogie Anyway stands as proof that it's true today.
Photo by Joan Hunt