JustinGuitar's Top 10 Blues Albums
There is so much music around I think it can be really helpful to have a list of great albums to check out! I wish someone had given me this list when I was just getting into blues, which is why I'm writing it here for you!
I've included links to Amazon mp3 (buying through these links gifts me a small commission) and also links to a Spotify playlist I made of the collection for you, where you can listen free.
I know I didn't include your favourite album, so I obviously don't know what I'm talking about and Jimi Hendrix isn't blues and what the hell do you know anyways and you're an expert and... but I don't care!! I'm hoping by making this list that I'll introduce some people to some great Blues music that I like. That's all. And if you know better, then good for you! With all that said, I'm more than happy to listen to suggestions for albums that should have been included - because there's a lot of great music out there that I don't know about!! :) Use the forum link at bottom of the page!
Hope you enjoy these fine recordings as much as I do!
Justinguitar's Top 10 Greatest Blues Guitar Albums
B.B. King - Live At The Regal (1964)
This is undoubtedly one of the fines Blues albums ever recorded. Just incredible on every level. Just get it!! I don't know anyone who doesn't like this album, B.B.'s playing is right on it, and the audience interaction is a window to the world at a very different time.
Stevie Ray Vaughan - Texas Flood (1983)
SRV was an incredible guitar player, for sure one of the greatest to grace our planet, and this album features some of the finest Texas Blues you'll ever hear. From the raw power of Pride And Joy to the subtle jazz fringes in Lenny, this is one of the all time great blues albums!
Eric Clapton (w John Mayall) - Bluesbreakers [called the "Beano" album] (1966)
This John Mayall album featuring Eric Clapton blew my mind when I first heard it. Clapton's full of energy and the power of the band is awesome, and the album features some incredible lead solos and a brilliant cover of the Freddie King's song Hideaway.
Albert King - Born Under A Bad Sign (1966)
Albert King played his guitar upside down with the thin string at the top. String bending is a bit easier this way (pulling down) and so Albert's unique style is based around incredible string bending. He was a huge influence, his licks copied by most later blues players.
Robert Johnson - Complete Recordings (1936-37)
Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads and started a legend. But his playing has been even more influential. He IS the blues, and though all the recordings of him are a bit scratchy (was a while back) his genius still shines through. Essential listening.
Freddie King - Lets Hide Away and Dance Away (1961)
Freddie King (one of the great '3 Kings' with Albert and B.B.) was a Texas blues pioneer and was a huge influence on young SRV. This album is all instrumental and features great writing as well as incredible playing.
T-Bone Walker - The Original Source (1930-1951)
I love T-Bone's playing, as well as being a brilliant player, he was one on of the first 'showman' who played behind his head, did the splits and rocked the house! This 90 track box set spans his whole incredible career!
Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced (1967)
I always wonder if Jimi should be Blues or Rock, he's kinda both, and even though there are no 12 Bar forms on this album, it certainly blues based and was a huge influence on many blues guitar players (well, all guitar players I guess), and it's a must have!
Robben Ford - Talk To Your Daughter (1987)
This album is a little different from the others on this list, slick production (maybe over done), but Robben is an incredible player and tears it up on this album, with one foot in traditional Blues and the other in Jazz Be-Bop, he makes a unique and brilliant blend!
Howlin Wolf - His Best [Chess 50th anniversary) (around 1965)
The guitar player for Howlin Wolf (vocals and harmonica) is a fella called Hubert Sumlin who's one of the finest blues guitar players of all time, and you'll hear plenty of his great work on this collection.
Other incredible Blues Guitar Albums
There are of course a lot more incredible albums than just my top 10, so here are some of them, more to come!
B.B. King - Live in Cook County Jail (around 1965)
We could have has a lot of BB on this list!! The Regal album is considered the best by most people, but this is a close second, really great sound on this album and man he tears it up, he is the Chairman Of The Board!!
Robben Ford & Jimmy Witherspoon Live (around 1976)
Robben was just a youngster when he made this album with the legend 'Spoon, but his playing is off the scale!! In fact it's not just the playing, but the use of dynamics and touch that are so incredible on this album. It's one I 'borrow' loads of licks from!! ;)
Rory Gallagher - Irish Tour '74
What a guitar player!! Rory tears it up in this incredible live album. I had this album as a teenager on cassette but with no name on it (taped it off someone) and never found out who it was until my late 20's!! Incredible guitar playing!
Chuck Berry - My Ding A Ling
You gotta have a bit of Chuck! He was a HUGE influence of those that came after him and even a lot of his own generation - though he did get a lot of his licks from T-Bone, he certainly bought his own style into the blues. And this one doesn't have Johnny B Goode on it, but most of his other classic hits!
Ry Cooder - Crossroads Soundtrack
I loved this film and the soundtrack is superb slide guitar from the master Ry Cooder. Really superb, possibly my favourite sundtrack of all time and a wonderful album by any standard. Do check out the film too, it's far fetched and a bit silly but got some fantastic guitar playing in it!
Larry Carlton - Last Night
I so LOVE this album. It one of my top 10 favourite albums of all time for sure. Larry is the pinacle of modern blues playing, mixing in a tasty spoonful of jazz into the blues and such incredible touch, tone and taste. Just get it, it's awesome.
Junior Wells - Hoodoo Man Blues
Junior Wells is a singer and harmonica player but this record features the legend Buddy Guy on guitar and he's smokin on it. Listen to In The Wee Hours and then SRV's Tin Pan Alley... you can bet that SRV took a lot from this record!
Lightnin Hopkins - Best Of
Love Lightnin Hopkins, he mostly does the awesome solo guitar things mixing up the lead and rhythm and you gotta watch the mini doco about him (The Blues According To Lightnin Hopkins), it's awesome! And this collection is a good one to get into his music.
Elmore James - The Sky Is Crying
The Sky Is Crying (obviously on this album) has become a blues standard. Elmore was a slide guitar master and he had a few phrases which seem to appear pretty often, but he's the real deal and one of those cats that you need to listen to and soak in some of that blues feel.
John Lee Hooker : The Legendary Modern Recordings 1948-1954
John Lee Hooker was the real deal, son a sharecropper, born in 1917 and was a very influntial blues cat who was an electric pioneer on the Delta style. These 'modern' recording (it's the label name!) are some of his best and he's playing solo and raw and you'll hear early incranations of some of his laer big hits.
Books about blues (not instructional)
Although you should be using your ears to learn the blues, having some idea about the history and what was going on at the time helps get it all in perspective and I found books really helped me piece everything together and understand how the different music styles developed and travelled from city to city. Maybe you will too!
The Devil's Music: A History of the Blues by Giles Oakley
I found this book to be awesome. Spent a whole 4 month tour reading it and buying CD's in every town of who it was talking about in the book. I learnt so much about the blues. It really is a great read, well written, clear and well illustrated. Check it out if you wanna play the blues.
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