The blues is a vast genre with many styles and musicians. There are regional scenes (Delta Blues, Chicago Blues, etc), there's style genres (jump blues, country blues, jazz blues etc) and almost everything in between.
For the rookie blues enthusiast, or the occasional listener, or a curious soul, I've compiled a list of ten albums that will get you started with the blues, from which you can then explore on your own.
These albums are all from the builders of the style, and the ones mostly associated with the genre. You might notice there are some compilation albums on the list, this is due to having most of the famous songs that shaped the blues in them. This is not a "best albums of all time" list.
So here we go:
10. ELMORE JAMES "The Very Best of Elmore James"
Elmore James is the master of the electric slide guitar, and his most famous song is "Dust My Broom". That opening slide lick set the standard for generations!
9. LIGHTNIN' HOPKINS "Mojo Hand"
Lightnin' Hopkins is a master guitarist, vocalist, and champion of early Texas blues. His guitar skills and haunting vocals are among the reasons people pick up the blues!
8. STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN "Texas Flood"
Stevie Ray Vaughan (SRV) single-handedly revived the blues in the 80's. His Texas blues-rock and extraordinary guitar skills have made every kid and adult want to pick up a guitar. He is considered one of the best guitarists of all time.
7. HOWLIN' WOLF "Moanin' in the Moonlight"
This Chicago blues giant (and I do mean that literally) has produced some of the most memorable music, thanks to his raspy, powerful voice. He is also a very adept guitar player in his own right.
6. JOHN LEE HOOKER "The Ultimate Collection 1948-1990"
John Lee Hooker is one of the staples of the blues, and for good reason! His songs "Boom, Boom" and "Boogie Chillen" have shaped rock n' roll; his unique guitar style is often imitated but never duplicated.
5. ALBERT KING "Born Under a Bad Sign"
4. SON HOUSE "The Very Best of Son House"
Son House is one of the pioneers of Delta blues, and his influence stretches to the entire world. His guitar playing and haunting voice inspired the bluesmen of the day such as Muddy Waters.
3. B.B. KING "The Ultimate Collection"
B.B. King needs no introduction. His music and guitar skills has made him the most successful bluesman ever, and his popularity in the music world is extremely high. He is still alive today and was in Lebanon recently (check out the exclusive review [here].
2. MUDDY WATERS "The Anthology 1947-1972"
Muddy Waters is the king of the electric Chicago blues. His move from Mississippi to Chicago, and adopting the electric guitar, set the stage for the world and it never looked back. His songs "Hoochie Coochie Man", "Rollin & Tumblin" and "Rollin' Stone" are just some of the examples that took the world by storm.
1. ROBERT JOHNSON "The Complete Recordings"
No one else has put the blues on the map, from lyrics to slide guitar, to mystery and voodoo as Robert Johnson. It was him that everyone wanted to be and even though he only recorded a few dozens songs, they live on forever and almost all bluesmen (and rockers) put him as the best blues player of all time.
There you have it folks! I hope you enjoyed this list and good luck with the Blues!