11 Albums to Help You Explore the Blues

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3. Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

In case you didn't know... Rock and Roll came from the Blues. The English artists that we now call legends revived the Blues and turned it up a notch. So the line between blues and blues-rock can sometime be hard to define. I'm trying to stick to blues here.

I say this because some would say that a 60's band with two white guys on guitar (Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop) isn't really a blues band. I would understand their point, and you won't see any Stones, Clapton, Vaughan, or Allman Brothers on the list, but in this case, I think they're wrong. I think this album, and it's follow up, East-West, are two of the best blues albums ever made.

Once you hear the opening cut, "Born in Chicago", you'll be right there with me.

4. Albert King, Born Under a Bad Sign

You may have heard Albert's guitar work and not even known it. That's probably because it wasn't Albert playing it, it was Eric Clapton (Ol' Slowhand would be the first to tell about the influence of Albert and others.)

Backed by Booker T. and the MGs, this 1967 release is one of the all-time electric blues classics. When we'd play it at the store, it would sell. Almost every single time. Try "Crosscut Saw" and see what you think.

5. Howlin' Wolf, Howlin' Wolf/Moanin' in the Moonlight

My favorite Blues artist of all. Three hundred pounds of heavenly joy. I used to imagine heaven as a place where I could be instantly transported to any time/place/moment. If that were the case, when it comes to the Blues, I'd ask to be put right in the middle of a juke joint to watch The Wolf at his peak.

Having not run into that situation yet, I'll have to stick to the recorded music. Wolf's first two albums are available on a two-for-one combo CD, and it's nothing short of amazing. It's hard to pick a song, but let's go with "Evil."

6. Muddy Waters. Hard Again

As is the case with Robert Johnson, you can't have a Blues collection without Muddy. Some would say At Newport, but like I mentioned, I like it better when the Blues rocks, so I'll go with 1977's Hard Again.

Johnny Winter showed up to help resurrect Muddy's career, and the result was a this rollicking little output. You'll recognize the opening notes of "Mannish Boy"... and then you'll realize you need to hear the rest.

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Steve Wiley
Contact: Steve Wiley