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July 2021

Various Artists
50 Years Of Genuine Houserockin' Music
Alligator Records

Alligator Records

Has it really been 50 years???!!! Happy Birthday, Alligator Records! You've aged very well, sounding newer and more refreshed every year as the sound of your recordings has changed over the years.

It all started when Bruce Iglauer, self-described as a longhaired, bearded "hippy," decided that he just needed to record his favorite Chicago band, Hound Dog Taylor & The HouseRockers. Alligator Records was born in 1971 and has survived an ever-changing business environment to release somewhere around 350 albums.

This rich 50-year history is now highlighted on Alligator Records 50 Years Of Genuine Houserockin' Music, an overwhelming collection of music that just skims the surface of the label's rich treasure trove of blues and its related forms of music. Some of the biggest names in blues history can be found in the Alligator archives, but it's also the lesser-known artists and rising stars that continue to make Alligator the king of the castle when it comes to blues labels.

Normally, in reviewing an album for this site I would write about most if not all of the songs, which ones I prefer and why. I'm going to mention a few of my personal favorites, but, really, the list of artists and their songs included in this collection tell it all.

It's only appropriate that this collection starts off with a classic from the band that inspired the birth of Alligator, with "Give Me Back My Wig" by Hound Dog Tyalor & The HouseRockers laying the foundation for what's to follow. Disc One continues with many of the early Chicago-based stars, such as Koko Taylor, Albert Collins, James Cotton, Son Seals, Luther Allison, Lonnie Brooks, and more. But Disc One also includes artists that showed Iglauer's willingness to break out of the Chicago blues confines, with contributions from Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women, William Clarke, Johnny Winter, Roy Buchanan, and The Paladins.

Perhaps the most notable selection on this first disc is Professor Longhair's "It's My Fault, Darling," from the Crawfish Fiesta album that came out right around the time of the influential New Orleans piano player's death in 1980. It's one of the albums that I would absolutely need to have on a desert island with me. I will be forever grateful to Iglauer and whomever else was responsible for recording and releasing it.

Disc Two shows the continuing diversity of artists appearing on Alligator releases. Chicago-style blues is still represented by artists like Carey Bell, Billy Boy Arnold, Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin, and The Kinsey Report. We also hear a wide diversity of styles from Mavis Staples (gospel), C.J. Chenier & The Red Hot Louisiana Band (zydeco), Cephas & Wiggins (Piedmont blues), Long John Hunter (Texas blues), as well as incorporating a newer generation of performers like Michael Burks, Joe Louis Walker, Kenny Neal, Michael Hill's Blues Mob, Little Charlie & The Nightcats, Smokin' Joe Kubek & Bnois King, Eric Lindell, and more.

The Holmes Brothers, one of my all-time favorite groups, had moved to Alligator after releasing earlier albums on Rounder. Every recording from this wonderful trio of musicians should be cherished, with their "Run Myself Out Of Town" included here. I still can't get enough of the blues from both the late Michael Burks and Michael Hill's Blues Mob, so I'm again grateful for Alligator for getting these cats recorded.

Disc Three starts with numbers from Marcia Ball, who has never made a recording that's less than fantastic, and Alligator stalwarts Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials. Most significant on Disk Three (for me, at least) are the cuts from some of my current favorite blues artists, especially newer names like Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, Selwyn Birchwood, Shemekia Copeland, and Toronzo Cannon, plus veterans Chris Cain, Roomful of Blues, and Curtis Salgado, all who shifted to Alligator later in their career.

Unless you already have every single Alligator album in your collection, you will want to own Alligator Records 50 Years Of Genuine Houserockin' Music. You will probably want a copy anyway for the liner notes and artist bios. I'm including the complete artist and song list here just to further tempt you. It's one of the most significant blues collections to come out in many years.

--- Bill Mitchell

 

DISC ONE  

1. Hound Dog Taylor & The HouseRockers Give Me Back My Wig (3:31)
2. Koko Taylor
Iím A Woman (4:36)
3. Big Walter Horton with Carey Bell
Have Mercy (3:45)
4. Fenton Robinson
Somebody Loan Me A Dime (2:54)
5. Professor Longhair
Itís My Fault, Darling (4:54)
6. Son Seals
Telephone Angel (5:25)
7. Johnny Winter
Lights Out (2:35)
8. Albert Collins
Blue Monday Hangover (5:35)
9. James Cotton
Little Car Blues (3:32)
10. Albert Collins, Robert Cray & Johnny Copeland
The Dream (5:28)
11. William Clarke Pawnshop Bound (4:22)

12. Lonnie Mack
Riding the Blinds (Live) (4:12)
13. Lonnie Brooks
Cold Lonely Nights (Live) (5:33)
14. Luther Allison
Soul Fixiní Man (Live) (4:03)
15. Clarence ďGatemouthĒ Brown
Got My Mojo Working (4:45)
16. SaffireĖThe Uppity Blues Women
Sloppy Drunk (3:06)
17. Roy Buchanan
That Did It (5:07)
18. The Paladins
Keep On Loviní Me, Baby (4:02)

 DISC TWO  

1. Michael Burks Love Disease (3:20)
2. Kenny Neal
Iím A Blues Man (4:11)
3. The Holmes Brothers Run Myself Out Of Town (3:26)

4. Little Charlie & The Nightcats
Jump Start (2:54)
5. Katie Webster
Iím Still Leaving You (3:36)
6. Smokiní Joe Kubek & Bnois King
Donít Lose My Number (3:32)
7. The Kinsey Report
Corner Of The Blanket (3:34)
8. Carey Bell
I Got A Rich Manís Woman (4:43)
9. C.J. Chenier & The Red Hot Louisiana Band
Au Contraire, Mon Frere (3:39)
10. Mavis Staples
Thereís A Devil On The Loose (3:34)
11. Michael Hillís Blues Mob
Presumed Innocent (4:37)
12. Steady Rolliní Bob Margolin
Not What You Said Last Night (2:49)
13. Billy Boy Arnold
Man Of Considerable Taste (4:31)
14. Cephas & Wiggins
Ainít Seen My Baby (3:23)
15. Long John Hunter
Marfa Lights (4:53)
16. Dave Hole
Phone Line (3:42)
17. Eric Lindell
Josephine (2:45)
18. Joe Louis Walker
I Wonít Do That (5:01)
19. Janiva Magness
Thatís What Love Will Make You Do (3:22)
20. The Siegel-Schwall Band
Going Back To Alabama (3:40)
21. Corey Harris & Henry Butler
Why Donít You Live So God Can Use You? (2:11)

 DISC THREE  

1. Marcia Ball Party Town (4:16)
2. Lilí Ed & The Blues Imperials
What You See Is What You Get (4:21)
3. Roomful Of Blues
In A Roomful Of Blues (3:31)
4. Billy Branch & The Sons Of Blues
Blue and Lonesome (4:11)
5. Christone ďKingfishĒ Ingram
Outside Of This Town (4:08)
6. Shemekia Copeland
Clotildaís On Fire (4:26)
7. Curtis Salgado
The Longer That I Live (3:51)
8. Selwyn Birchwood
Living In A Burning House (4:08)
9. Elvin Bishop & Charlie Musselwhite
Midnight Hour Blues (4:14)
10. The Cash Box Kings
Ainít No Fun (When The Rabbitís Got The Gun) (4:42)
11. Tommy Castro & The Painkillers Make It Back To Memphis (Live) (4:55)

12. JJ Grey & Mofro
A Woman (Live) (3:24)
13. Rick Estrin & The Nightcats Iím Running (4:06)

14. Coco Montoya
You Didnít Think About That (3:56)
15. Tinsley Ellis
Ice Cream In Hell (4:13)
16. Chris Cain
You Wonít Have A Problem When Iím Gone (3:08)
17. Guitar Shorty
Too Late (4:14)
18. The Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling
The High Cost of Low Living (4:04)
19. Toronzo Cannon
The Chicago Way (4:22)

 

 

 

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