Album Reviews

Alligator Records 45th Anniversary Collection

Various Artists

Artist:     Alligator Records 45th Anniversary Collection

Album:     Alligator Records 45th Anniversary Collection

Label:     Alligator Records

Release Date:     06/10/2016


Alligator Records fantastic 45th Anniversary Collection immediately kicks into high gear with Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials’ “Hold That Train.” With blistering slide guitar work and an infectious shuffle beat, Lil’ Ed sets the stage for heaps of rockin’ blues. On the second cut, “Cotton Picking Blues,” Son Seals sears your ears with molten hot lead guitar. Shemekia Copeland switches up the sound with “The Devil’s Hand,” originally written by her father Texas bluesman Johnny Copeland, rendered here with an Afrobeat feel. Elvin Bishop’s “Can’t Even Do Wrong Right” humorously tells the tale of failing to fail. Toronzo Cannon’s “Bad Contract” burns with Hendrix-like licks. Carey and Lurrie Bell strip things down with acoustic blues guitar and harmonica on “The Road Is So Long” and Koko Taylor raps with mojo funk on “Voodoo Woman.”

All this is only about one quarter of the feast that Alligator provides in this banquet of blues, and there is simply too much to list, but some of the better known names include Charlie Musslewhite, Delbert McClinton, James Cotton, Joe Bonamassa, Albert Collins, Johnny Winter, the Kentucky Headhunters, Guitar Shorty, Bonnie Raitt, Luther Allison, the Holmes Brothers, Mavis Staples, and the group that launched the label, Hound Dog Taylor And the HouseRockers. Phew!

Bruce Igualer and Wesley Race began Alligator in 1971 with the release of their first record Hound Dog Taylor And The HouseRockers. Since then they have been dedicated to bringing the best of American Blues music and have released nearly 300 records all while adhering to the same philosophy they began with: “The direct, unvarnished, straight from the soul-blues and blues-roots music, the music we call “Genuine Houserockin’ Music,” speaks to some primal, necessary place in people’s consciousness. We believe that our music, if delivered by charismatic, soul-stirring artists, and if publicized, promoted and marketed with unwavering energy, will find a worldwide audience, stand the test of time, and keep the label moving forward for years to come.”

This smorgasbord of sound leaves no doubt about Alligator’s success. Mission accomplished and then some! Best of all is how listening to each track is an education in the many manifestations of the blues. Acoustic, electric, traditional, modern and more– no genre is left out. Though this collection doesn’t feature early recordings, stylistically one can hear the progression from the Delta to the city and where the blues is at today. There’s something here for everyone, and you just can’t go wrong with Alligator. Highly recommended.

-Mike Cobb

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