Colin James – Blue Highways


Colin James
Blue Highways
True North Records TND630

Classic Blues With a Hefty Shot of Rhythm and Style.

As usual I played this album a couple of times before reading the Press Release and when I did, it only confirmed what I’d decided – Colin James really does love the Blues.
While I only recognised a couple of tracks on those cursory plays; it turns out that this, James’s EIGHTEENTH album is actually a tribute to the guys he grew up listening to and so obviously influenced him.
The six time Juno Award Winner gets the show on the road with a blistering take on Freddie King’s Boogie Funk before immediately turning the tables on the next track with a beautiful rendition of the early Fleetwood Mac masterpiece Watch Out, with the Canadian more than just paying homage to Peter Green with his amazing bottle-neck solos while Jesse O’Brien and Simon Kendal both tinkle the ivories in the background.
Those two tracks very much set the mood for a delightful ride through the back-roads of Blues County via London circa 1965.
Even a cursory listen to this album shows that Colin James grew up listening to similar albums to me, and discovered the Blues from the likes of Clapton, Gallagher and the like.
His fluid electric guitar style certainly echoes memories of early Eric Clapton on William Bell’s Don’t Miss Your Water and Muddy Waters’ Gypsy Woman; bringing out nuances I’d not heard in years; and Steve Marriner’s ‘most Blues wailing harmonica’ solo on the latter is nothing less than spine tingling.
While I think of myself as a Blues Fan; I didn’t recognise at least half the songs here; but that’s no bad thing as hearing the beautiful Ain’t Long For Day and Going Down (by Don Nix?) when the band get low, down and dirty I was and still am in Heaven.
I now have several versions of Hoodoo Man Blues in my collection; first coming across the song when Rory Gallagher recorded it and it still remains a firm favourite; but James’s gives it a more Rhythm & Blues, Roadhouse treatment with some rather neat piano playing from Simon Kendall (again) while Steve Marriner tries to blow the reeds out of his mouth-harp.
I like to offer a favourite song at this stage; but you really can cover your eyes and pick anything and be impressed but I will point you towards the Riding in the Moonlight/Mr. Luck hybrid as it is R&B at its’s rawest with just James on acoustic guitar and the indomitable Steve Marriner on harmonica and I defy you to listen to any better Blues tune in 2016.
I’m far too young to have been around when the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Bluesbreakers and The Animals were playing this type of music to young long-haired gadabouts in the early 1960’s, but was around in the mid-1970’s when The Blues Burglars, Junco Partners and and a host of other bands you’ve never heard of were treading the boards around the North East before hundreds of impressionable music fans who will adore this album and hopefully, go into Colin James back catalogue to hear and BUY his original music.


Released UK November 25th 2016
Released North America October 18th 2016

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