Recommended music: Blues

  • 15 November 2017
  • 8 replies
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While Jazz continues to rule my listening hours, I recently chanced upon Different Shades of Blue by Joe Bonamassa. I liked that so much as a change from Jazz, that I looked up more of his work. Which I liked so well, that I delved deeper, all the way to Robert Johnson and Big Mama Thornton - as of now. Great music, perhaps more toe tapping and dance music than Jazz often is - other than Dixieland Jazz of course.
That said my first list of great albums other than some by Bonamassa, and surprisingly well recorded in many cases given their age.
1. BB King: Live at the Regal
2. Blues to the Bone: Etta James
3. His Best: Howlin Wolf
4. Somebody loan me a dime: Fenton Robinson
5. Sassy Mama: Big Mama Thornton
Just the beginning of a long voyage of new discoveries.
And all sound brilliant on well set up 1 pair + Sub.

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8 replies

This is a genre that I really haven’t gotten into yet. I can appreciate it, but I can’t get more than a tune or two into it. Big Stevie Ray Vaughan fan, but his blues to me were more rock. Fantastic tone and playing though. Will be great to watch this thread and learn. Thanks, K.
Some albums that helped me start the journey, given similar challenges to those above:
1. Blues on the Bayou - BB King
2. Roll with the punches - Van Morrison
3. Riding with the King - Clapton and BB King
4. Texas Flood - Stevie Ray Vaughan, the first time I heard Mary had a little lamb as a blues-rock song.
5. Blues to the Bone - Etta James
And the genres between Blues, Rock and Roll and Rock tend to be blurred. Muddy Waters has a song - The blues got pregnant and they named the baby Rock and Roll!
And what to some like me from the 20th century is a miracle that is easily forgotten: with Internet + Streaming Services + Sonos, all the music is easily accessed in high quality and for close to free! In India, I pay less than USD 2 a month for subscription to Google Music. For all around that sucks, there HAS been some useful progress as well.
More ways into the genre:
1. Born to play guitar/Living Proof by Buddy Guy: Two classic electric blues albums with up to date sound quality of recently recorded performances by the 74 year old and counting Mr Guy.
2. Any of the Alligator record anniversary collections that were released very five years from their 25th anniversary. Each album is excellent value, containing over 30 tracks from many performers.
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Oh - the start of another good thread I think!
Blues roots? Try anything by Mississippi John Hurt. His 'live' album a good place to start.
Something more up to date? Anything by the late, great Rory Gallagher.
Thanks for the John Hurt recommendation; brilliant find from the same time as Robert Johnson, but uniquely different. There is a 1928 recording of him that surprises at the quality of the sound as well. And he was then rediscovered in the 1960s, and there are some good records from that time as well. Fascinating to hear the same person singing the same songs more than three decades later, just very good ice creams of different flavours.
1928: Avalon Blues, the OKEH recordings
1965ish: The best of..live

Another great find for getting parties started is Albert Collins with Johnny Copeland and a young Robert Cray: Album - Showdown!

While his Ice Pickin' is more humorous; Master Charge - about credit cards and wives who use them, and Conversation with Collins, about wives in general!

I still have to get into Rory Gallagher, though I know about Irish Tour.
Another performer from a related genre I knew from The Wire - classic TV, by the way - is Steve Earle. In addition to a version of "Way down in the hole" for one of the later seasons, he also has a significant role in a few episodes.
In delving into Blues, I came across two of his early albums that are excellent guitar music - his debut album " Guitar Town" and "Copperhead Road". Recommended listening.
Big Stevie Ray Vaughan fan, but his blues to me were more rock. Fantastic tone and playing though.
All I knew about him was Pride and Joy, from an old MTV unplugged CD. I liked the music then, but wasn't driven to delving further.

In trawling through the genre, I came across his sessions with Albert King that led me to his album " The sky is crying". Great music, released after his death, I believe. In particular the title track and the last one on the album, "Life by the drop" are excellent listening.

I also find Google Play with their stations feature to be a great way to discover new music, once a genre is determined. Diverging slightly, it also lets me to fervently thank myself for having jettisoned the audiophile/SACD/Hi Res thing, because unless that had been done, I would never have allowed myself to spend time with that source. Or Apple Music, also good in its own way. And I would have then lost out on over a hundred times the music than the one level possible gain in sound quality by listening to music through a much smaller window of access.