Monday, May 9, 2011

The Alligator Records 40th Anniversary Collection reviewed by Rick Davis

The Alligator Records 40th Anniversary Collection
Various Artists
Alligator Records
38 Tracks

The Alligator Records 40th Anniversary Collection is a tribute to a generation of blues artists who have dedicated their lives to the music that we all have enjoyed for years and in particular, Bruce Iglauer's inspiration for starting Alligator Records in 1971, Hound Dog Taylor. This collection pays homage to past legends of blues performers, musicians, and songwriters of all blues genres who have forged classical blues tunes as well as inspiring a new generation of talent so well showcased on this two-record collection. From that first recording of  Hound Dog Taylor And The Houserockers to this current 40 year blues tribute, The Alligator Records 40th Anniversary Collection, Iglauer has become a household name in the blues music world.

It all started in January, 1970, at a little neighborhood bar called Florence's Lounge on Chicago's South Side. A young blues fan named Bruce Iglauer dropped by to see a local artist the fans called "Dog" aka Hound Dog Taylor. Bruce was so inspired, he became booking agent, business manager, roadie, promotion man, and publicist for Hound Dog. It was then that Alligator Records started as a one-man operation in his small apartment filled with record cartons and a shipping table beside his bed. That first promo piece to promote the very first Hound Dog Taylor album was headed "Genuine Houserockin' Music" which is still the Alligator slogan today. Artists such as Big Walter Horton, Son Seals and Fenton Robinson all contributed to the growth of this small record company. Today, since Alligator Records has a catalog list of almost 300 titles, it is the largest independent blues label in the world. The Alligator recordings have received many accolades over the 40 year period. Iglauer states that "Alligator should be the label that's exposing the next generation of blues artists and bringing their music to the next generation of blues fans. I want the future of the blues and the future of Alligator Records to be one and the same."
The two-CD collection is 160 minutes of re-mastered music with 38 tracks of recordings released from 1978 to 2011 including a 32 page booklet of short biographies of the artists. Disc one includes artists and tunes Koko Taylor "I'm A Woman," Albert Collins "I Ain't Drunk," Michael Burks "Strange Feeling," Michael Burks "Strange Feeling," Tommy Castro "Backup Plan," Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials "Icicles In My Meatloaf" Guitar Shorty "We The People," Rick Estrin & The Nightcats "U B U," Marcia Ball "The Party's Still Going On," Roomful Of Blues "That's A Pretty Good Love," Smokin' Joe Kubek & Bnois King "Have Blues, Will Travel," Son Seals "Going Home," Buddy Guy & Junior Wells "Give Me My Coat And Shoes," Janiva Magness "Slipped, Tripped And Fell In Love," Johnny Winter "Mojo Boogie," Coco Montoya "Last Dirty Deal," Corey Harris "Fish Ain't Bitin'," Luther Allison "All The King's Horses," Anders Osborne "Echoes Of M y Sins,"  and Lonnie Mack W/Stevie Ray Vaughan "Double Whammy."
Artists on disc two are Albert Collins, Robert Cray & Johnny Copeland "T-Bone Shuffle," Lonnie Brooks "Don’t Take Advantage Of Me," Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater "A Good Leavin’ Alone," Hound Dog Taylor "Sitting At Home Alone," Elvin Bishop & Little Smokey Smothers "Roll Your Moneymaker," James Cotton "With The Quickness," Shemekia Copeland "It’s My Own Tears," Professor Longhair "Red Beans," Charlie Musselwhite "Where Hwy 61 Runs," Roy Buchanan With Delbert Mcclinton "You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover," Mavis Staples "Step Into The Light," Tinsley Ellis "Speak No Evil," Eric Lindell "It’s A Drag," Saffire—The Uppity Blues Women "Going Down To The River," The Holmes Brothers "Feed My Soul," Katie Webster "Two-Fisted Mama," William Clarke "Daddy Pinocchio," Buckwheat Zydeco "When The Levee Breaks," and Jj Grey & Mofro "The Sun Is Shining Down."

We can only hope Alligator Records will continue promote blues artists like this for another 40 years producing quality recordings like those sampled in this their 40 year anniversary collection.

Reviewed by Rick Davis

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