Guitar & Piano
Dylan and the Dead
Women In Music
Guitar - This page is dedicated to the cream of the crop
blues guitar players. There are so many. A difficult task
indeed. How many should I include? I
wanted to keep the list short to emphasize the best. To start, I decided on
For the initial list I wanted to include a taste of some of the early
acoustic players, Chicago blues, and blues rock, the top tier of each category. Too, I wanted to include single string,
finger picking, slide guitar, and dual guitar.
With the acoustic blues, the two entries are
completely different. Robert Johnson represents the
Mississippi Delta. So much
can be traced back to him. There is Muddy Waters who recorded lots
of Delta material before helping revolutionize the Chicago electric blues
scene. From Muddy's influence we have legends like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page,
The Rolling Stones, etc. From Clapton we have Van Halen, from Page we have
Rush, from The Rolling Stones we have Aerosmith, from Aerosmith we
have Guns N' Roses. You get the picture. Conversely,
Reverend Gary Davis is more of a finger picking ragtime blues player. And before
Reverend Gary Davis we had Blind Willie Johnson, and after, Jorma
Kaukonen etc. So much great music traces back.
Chicago Blues - Muddy Waters is the representative
of the Chicago blues genre. We'll add more Chicago greats in
upcoming chapters. Muddy has a vast catalog. Starting with acoustic
delta music and then the electric blues formula. Muddy's band
personnel changed through the years as many of his band mates
branched out on their own.
Blues Rock - A nice variety here. Slide
master Duane Allman, teams up with Dickey Betts to perform
dual guitar music that is so kind to the ears. Fret master Stevie Ray Vaughan
really took blues to a new level by adding the Hendrix influence, Then,
the Dominos incorporates both slide and straight guitar, featuring
Duane Allman and Eric Clapton respectively. Speaking of
Clapton, since Derek and the Dominos made the list, I snuck a few
blues leaning Clapton recommendations on the list.
To recap, the finalists are:
Reverend Gary Davis
Derek and the Dominos
I went back and forth on who to include. The two that
were never in question are Duane Allman and Stevie Ray
I'm expanding this section to highlight some of
my other favorite blues players with additional sections. Some
of those that were considerations for the front page are: King (all three),
Roy Buchanan, Howlin' Wolf,
Mississippi Fred McDowell, Buddy Guy, Lightning Hopkins,
Blind Willie Johnson, and others.
Other chapters in our Best Blues section
[ Blues Music ] [ VariousArtists ] [ Slide & Bottleneck ] [ Martin Scorsese Pre... ]
Other blues related material in our website:
video section includes the American Folk-Blues Festival
DVD's. Plus we have a chapter on Acoustic
Blues and Guitar piano: Blues.
||The Complete Recordings
Johnson makes the list as much for his contribution and influence to
the blues genre as the music itself. I have Johnson's The Complete
Recordings and do enjoy listening to it, but without its historic
importance, he wouldn't have made the front page.
There are 29 Robert Johnson songs. Of them,
several were recorded twice for a total of 41 recordings. That is
all there is.
All 41 recordings are on The Complete Recordings.
The package has very good liner notes with photos, lyrics, recording
essays. The tracks are in chorological order. Meanwhile, Complete Collection
has the 29 songs on one disc without the alternate tracks. There are
plenty of other, lesser, compilations that include some of his songs and numerous
The great label JSP released a box set called The Road to Robert Johnson
(and beyond). It contains four discs. The first disc are pre Robert
Johnson artists and peers. The second disc contains 29 Robert Johnson songs. The third
and fourth disc comprise of great blues artists that were followed
Johnson. They didn't gather a track per artist, but often have
numerous songs. For example, for Muddy
Waters on disc three they included all of the songs from his The Complete Plantation Recordings
CD, which were recorded in 1941.
Mississippi Blues, Vol. 4
- This album was originally released in 1987 and digitally remastered in 2007.
Four tracks by Otto Virgil, 11 by by Robert Johnson and eight
by Robert Lockwood.
|The Road to Robert Johnson
||Mississippi Blues, Vol. 4
||Pure Religion & Bad Company
||Heroes of the
|Reverend Gary Davis'
ragtime finger picking playing is among the best of
that technique. So good that he has influenced generations of guitarists.
Perhaps none more than Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane,
Hot Tuna, etc.
there are quality recordings of available of Davis. The two
recordings noted are strong releases. Pure Religion & Bad Company
is from 1957 while Heroes of the Blues is a compilation, a
few from 1935, then 1957 - '71.
There is very little overlap, one song.
From Heroes of the Blues, Grateful Dead fans will recognize
Davis' "Samson and Delilah" and "Death Don't Have No
Mercy," two songs they performed during their career.
||Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live
Waters' catalog is vast. There are some early acoustic treasures in
the style of Robert Johnson. Though, their output differs in that Muddy's
classic early Chess recordings used additional support; bass, piano, etc.
Also, Muddy's material included instrumental breaks, but Johnson's
Moving along, there are storied Chess studio
electric recordings, his work that Johnny Winter produced, and lots of live
treasures, among other gems.
Muddy Waters' The Chess Box set is highly
recommended. I find that his numerous single or the two disc release, The
Anthology, leave essential material off due to the length
limitations. They do satisfy smaller appetites. Additionally, The
Chess Box. has
some really good material that is not available elsewhere or is very
rare, specifically, some outtakes from the Bill Broonzy sessions on
disc 2 and some gems on disc 3 from 1963. This
is a really well done release.
The Chess Box with Muddy "Mississippi" Waters
Live, of which there is no overlap. There are
numerous live tracks on the The Chess Box, but a complete
live Muddy release is a treasure to be heard.
Visit our Muddy
|The Anthology: 1947-1972
||The Definitive Collection
||At Fillmore East
2 discs, 13 songs
|Live At The F. East
1 disc, 7 songs
Allman Brothers play some of the most incredible blues rock. We'll
focus primarily on the Duane Allman period, though, the line-up with Warren
Haynes and Derek Trucks is noteworthy too (understatement). Fans
of Muddy Waters and Elmore James' slide guitar will certainly love Duane Allman
This line-up of the Allman Brothers live concerts typically
began with some shorter blues standards to warm-up before diving
into some more extended jams. The material includes covers of blues
legends, T-Bone Walker, Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon,
Blind Willie McTell, among others with stunning results. Really,
words. As the concerts progressed, the Allman Brothers stretched out some of these blues numbers
as "Stormy Monday" usually clocks in around ten minutes
and "You Don't Love Me" closer to twenty with delicious
Fillmore - There are several versions of this
release, single disc, expanded, etc.
Eat a Peach Deluxe - This classic album was given
the Deluxe treatment. A second disc was added that includes a
complete concert from 6/27/71. The original album includes both
studio material and a few live tracks (supplementing the success of Fillmore
Eat a Peach review
Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: Allman Brothers
- A solid releases of just the blues.
The Allman Brothers Band had several guitar
line-ups through their storied career. After the Duane period, I'd
rank the band with Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks as the best.
Presently, they recorded one studio album, Hittin' the
Note, that we highly rate. Their
treasured 2003 Beacon run was and released in both DVD and audio.
Before joining the Allman Brothers band, Duane was
a session player. There is some good music to explore, more details
in our Duane Allman section.
Visit our Allman
Brothers Band profile
|Eat a Peach
||Martin Scorsese Presents...
|Live at the Beacon Theatre
||One Way Out -
| Derek and the
Dominos | Eric
||Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
||The Layla Sessions : 20th Anniversary Edition
Clapton storied career has the blues written throughout it. The
absolute best is with Derek and the Dominos. Their studio album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
is incredible, and for the more ambitious listener like myself, their
box set The Layla Sessions: 20th Anniversary Edition, won't disappoint.
In addition to Derek and the
Dominos, it is opportune to highlight other
blues dominant Clapton releases. His recording with John Mayall, Bluesbreakers
With Eric Clapton, reminds me a
bit of Paul Butterfield Band (with Michael Bloomfield and Elvin
There are a few compilations to consider too. Eric
Clapton: The Blues is a double disc, one side live and the other studio
from the 1970's. It doesn't include and Cream or John Mayall from
the 1960's. That's OK, pick up those separately as otherwise, it
would take a third disc. Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: Eric Clapton
is great music, just not enough of it.
Also of note are some live recordings. Derek and
the Dominos Live
at the Fillmore. It does not have Duane Allman in the band. His
live box set Crossroads
II: Live in the Seventies has loads to offer. Sort of like
side two of Eric Clapton: The Blues, just much more.
I wasn't floored by his release of Robert
Johnson's covers. His other blues only studio release From
the Cradle is very good.
Also consider Howlin' Wolf's
The London Howlin' Wolf
Sessions that feature Eric Clapton on lead guitar; Wolf's
guitarist, Hubert Sublim handles the rhythm guitar duties.
Our Eric Clapton section has more details about
all these releases and much more.
|Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton
Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton - Deluxe
Clapton: The Blues
Martin Scorsese Presents ...
Stand the Weather
||Live at Carnegie Hall
Ray Vaughan makes the short list. He took the electric blues (more
of Albert King than Muddy Waters) and Hendrixified it. I've
heard a lot of great musicians perform Hendrix covers and try to
imitate his technique. None do it better than Stevie Ray Vaughan,
not even close. Of the handful of Hendrix covers, I enjoy Stevie's
renditions as much as Jimi's. More stunning is his incorporation of
Jimi's technique into his own songs, "Lenny," "Say
What," etc., and that is what placed him on this page.
I've included four selections, one studio, one
live, and the two top compilation choices, a single and a double.
Vaughan released four studio albums and they are worthwhile,
especially with the bonus material. There is a posthumous release
too of studio outtakes through the years.
Stevie Ray Vaughan has a number of excellent DVD's
and his recording, In
Session with Albert King is worthwhile.
|The Essential Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
||The Real Deal: Greatest Hits Vol. 1
of the Blues