Well, if you're looking not only for names, but a method in which to cover this territory, I would start with Robert Johnson. There is a 2-CD set available of his complete recordings. Blues as we know it today can be said to have started with him. (Not true, of course. Things such as these always evolve in an organic fashion, involving numerous people in various places, often at the same time. But, for simplicity's sake, I can be comfortable with the generalization).
Accompany your listening with some reading, and find out about those who picked up where Robert left off. You'll no doubt then come across all the seminal Blues figures of the 20th century. Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin' Wolf, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon, Little Walter, Elmore James, Junior Wells, Lowell Fulson, Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, Chuck Berry, and on into the era of Rock and Roll, which owes its start to those pioneers just mentioned.
Punch in Blues and I'm sure you will be reading peoples suggestions til dawn. One group I will reccomend is Little Charlie and the Night Cats. Their new Cd Nine Lives is killer and if you like that then check out their Night Vision and Straight Up offerings. Good stuff,not a bad song on these three CD's.
There are so many styles of blues that it's impossible to generalize. There's Chicago blues by artists like Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon. Delta blues ... There's acoustic, electric, piano, harp and full band.
If you're coming from rock, Stevie Ray Vaughn would be a start. I started by reading the credits on Zeplin albums.
From jazz, jump blues and Roomful of Blues or Downchild would be a good launch.
More traditional blues can be sampled from any of hundreds of compilation discs until you find a preference.
ever hear of Billy Holiday? You couldn't start with better. Anything. She only had a one octave range, but man what she could do with a song...try Light'ning Hopkins/Go'in Away. Belafonte Sings the Blues is another nice one to start with, as well. Beautiful recording and lovely jazz ensemble accompanying him. Notice I'm stopping here. You'll have a list a mile long before the day is through. Oodles of good stuff out there, and you have the audiophools here to give it to you. Happy listening...peace, warren :)
Mississippi John Hurt is more a "folky" style of the blues. Eric Clapton does some good blues too. Clapton's album "Me and Mr Johnson" is wonderful. He sings blues legend Robert Johnson's songs. Some great music.
what did I tell ya? You got a gold mine here?
robert randolph,johnny winter,jimmie lafave,buddy guy,rl burnside,john hammond. keb mo, jimmie vaughan. check out robert johnson, son house,muddy waters, john lee hooker,bb king, stevie ray vaughan and john mayall for perspective.
I knew I could count on getting some good responses and I'm sure there'll be more before the day is done. Many thanks to each and every one that has or will respond. I've hit the mother lode for sure. That's what I was hoping for and you folks certainly did not disappoint. Thanks again everybody!
Robert Cray and Etta James are 2 of my favorites. Kelly Joe Phelps is pretty good stuff too, more acoustic type. His CD "Tap the Red Cane Whirlwind" is great.
Just a quick update. I've printed out the responses so far so I have a list to work from, and I just ordered some cd's to get me started. They are:
"Lady Day", The Best Of Billie Holiday.
"His Best" by Sonny Boy Williamson.
"The Complete Recordings" by Robert Johnson.
"The Complete Blind Willie Johnson".
"Complete Recorded Works of Son House & The Great Delta Blues Singers".
"His Best 1947-1955" by Muddy Waters.
What do you think?...will these get me off to a good start? I'm thinking so!
Thanks again to everyone!
As stated above there are LOTS of sub-genras in blues.
I love the Lomax/Library of Congress recordings that were done on wax cylinders. Terrible sound quality but great music.
Delta blues and Country blues are my speed.
Early Chicago blues is great too.
There are quite a few current artists at CDBaby.com that are wonderful too.
Fas Posum Records has three samplers that are cheap and have some awesome songs.
I glanced at the PBS box set soundtrack from the Scorsese documentary and it looked like a good place to start.
I agree with Bignerd re. the Lomax / Library of Congress recordings. I find this music to be part of a national treasure.
I would suggest looking for some original Fleetwood Mac back when it was Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac. There have been some good anthologies coming out lately. Some of Peter Greens solo stuff is good too.
Other sub genres include zydeco and blues piano (both of which tend to be Louisiana-centric). Many rock fans find both genres easy to love. For the former, you might try Zachary Richard (Fatras! is great, but any record featuring Sonny Landreth on guitar will do). For the latter, Professor Longhair is the go-to guy, although James Booker's Lost Paramount Tapes is also a great record.
Lot's of Blues recommendations in this Audiogon thread:http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?gmusi&992873774
Eric Clapton's solo on "Strange Brew" was lifted note for note from Albert Kings early hit "Crosscut Saw", but if you really want to hear his influence it would be on Stevie Ray Vaughn's work. Young Albert King taught himself to play holding a right hand guitar upside down back wards since he was left handed. He also plucked the strings with his thumb without a pick, although you would never guess by listening to his dynamic style. Yup, my favorite of the classic electric blues men was the late great Albert King.
Now switch gears and check out Etta Baker. Shes about 100 years old and plays authentic Piedmont Blues. An interesting finger picking style from the mountains of North Carolina. Cool Stuff.
My last suggestion is to go out and get a couple compilation albums, like the Alligator Samplers. You will find some great music this way. Good Luck !
muddy waters: electric mud
rl burnside: early recordings or asspocket of whiskey
john lee hooker: hooker & heat (my fave)
To my taste, a lot of the old classic blues is tough for modern ears to listen to. It's the real deal and part of understanding the genre but not always easy going... that btw was the stuff that influenced the 60's british bands. Listen to early John Mayall, Stones etc.
In the rock genre Johnny Winters is a definitive one along with the aforementioned Stevie Ray. Totally random that no one has mentioned BB King is a mystery. To say nothing of Albert King. Actually check out Eric Clapton's "Riding With The King" which is a duet with BB King; and "Me & Mr Johnson" which is a tribute to seminal bluesman Robert Johson
For a change of pace try some of the great jazz singers - Peggy Lee, Dinah Washington and Ella Fitzgerald all have albums with "Blues" in the title. Maria Muldaur is more contemporary - "A woman alone with the blues" is full of feeling.
My newest, latest greatest find is an obscure Duke Ellington album called Back To Back which is a small ensemble with Johnny Hodges on trumpet. Coubt Basie has one called Good Time Blues that really gets rolling. And there is an early Basie with Jimmy Rushing that is pretty raw. All of the Verve/Blue Note gang did some blues - as did Satchmo.
JOHNNY LANG wonder this world. is a great one.
I suggest you take a few names from lists like this and go to a site like Amazon.com or Allmusic.com and listen to some cuts. Hopefully you'll find a sytle of blues that you like. As you will find below I am somewhat of an "electric" blues fan, Texas, Chicago, whatever.... it's all good to me.
Good luck and happy hunting!
A. J. Croce...That's Me In The Bar
Aerosmith...Honkin' On Bobo
Albert Collins...Cold Snap
Albert Collins Albert Collins...Deluxe Edition
Albert Collins, Robert Cray, Johnny Copeland...showdown
Allman Brothers Band...One Way Out ( 2 Discs )
Alvin Lee & Ten Year After...Pure Blues
Albert King with Stevie Ray Vaughan...In Session
B.B.King with Eric Clapton...Riding with the King
B.B.King...The Best Of The Blues 3 CD Set
B.B.King...Live In Cook County Jail
B.B.King...King Of The Blues:1989
B.B.King & Friends...B.B.King & Friends - 80
Bid Bad Voodoo Daddy...Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Bill Perry...Crazy Kind of Life
Bill Perry...Raw Deal
Bob Walsh...A Canadian Blues Rendez-vous
Bonnie Raitt...Nick Of Time
Bonnie Raitt...Longing In Their Hearts
Bonnie Raitt...Road Tested
Bonnie Raitt...Silver Lining
Bonnie Raitt...Souls Alike
Brian Setzer Orchestra...Guitar Slinger
Brian Setzer Orchestra...The Dirty Boogie
Bubby Guy...Heavy Love
Bubby Guy...Bring'Em In
Buddy Guy...Feels Like Rain
Byther Smith...Addressing the nation with the blues
Canned Heat...Greatest Hits (Uncanned ! - The best of Canned Heat)
Carlos Santana...Blues For Salvador
Charlie Musselwhite...Deluxe Edition
Coco Montoya...Can't Look Back
Coco Montoya...Gotta mind to travel
Colin James...Colin James and The Little Big Band II
Colin James...Bad Habits
David Gogo...Skeleton Key
David Gogo...Bare Bones
David Hole...The Live One
David Hole...Working Overtime
David Raitt & Jimmy Thackery...That's It
Debbie Davis...Key to Love
Debbie Davis...Tales from the Austin Motel
Debbie Davis...Picture This
Debbie Davis...All I Found
Debbie Davis...Love The Game
Debbie Davis, Kenny Neal, Tab Benoit...Homesick for the Road
Deborah Coleman...What about love
Deborah Coleman...Soft place to fall
Deborah Coleman...I Can't Lose
Delbert McClinton...One Of The Fortunate Few
Delbert McClinton...Live From Austin
Dogskin Suit...Growin' at the Gator
Dogskin Suit...Diggin' Up The Yard
Doug James (D.Robillard & Sugar Ray Norcia)...Blow Mr. Low
Duke Robillard...Stretchin' Out Live
Duke Robillard...New Blues for the Modern Man
Duke Robillard...Duke's Blues
Duke Robillard...Living with the Blues
Eric Clapton...24 Nights
Eric Clapton...From The Cradle
Eric Clapton...Blues - 2 CD Set
Eric Clapton...Me and Mr. Johnson
Eric Clapton...Sessions For Robert J.
Fabulous Thunderbirds...The Greatest Hits
Fabulous Thunderbirds...Wrap It Up
Gregg Allman...Searching for simplicity
Harry Manx...Dog My Cat
James Cotton Blues Band...35th Anniversary Jam
Jeff Healey Band...Get Me Some
Jeff Healey Band...See The Light
Jeff Healey Band...Hell To Pay
Jimi Hendrix...Martin Scorsese Presents THE BLUES
Jimmie Vaughan...Strange Pleasure
Jimmy D. Lane...Long Gone
Jimmy D. Lane...Legacy
Jimmy D. Lane with Double Trouble...It's Time
Jimmy Thackery...Healin' Ground
Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers...Drive to Survive
Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers...Switching Gears
Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers...Trouble Man
Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers...True Stories
Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers...We Got It
Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers...Wild Night Out!
Jimmy Thackery & Tab Benoit...Whiskey Store
Jimmy Thackery & Tab Benoit...LIVE - Whiskey Sore
Joanna Connor...Big Girl Blues
Joe Beard (Duke Robillard & friends)...For Real
Joe Beard (featuring Ronnie Earl)...Blues Union
John Hammond...Wicked Grin
John Lee Hooker...House Of The Blues
John Lee Hooker...The Real Folk Blues
John Lee Hooker...The Best Of John Lee Hooker.1965-1974
John Lee Hooker...Plays & Sings The Blues
John Mayall...London Blues 1964-1969
John Mayall...Along for the Ride
John Mayall...John Mayall & The BluesBreakers and Friends
John Mayall...Road Dogs
Johnny Winter...I'm A Bluesman
Johnny Winter...Guitar Slinger
Jonny Lang...Lie To Me
Jonny Lang & The Big Bang...Smokin'
Junior Wells...Come On In This House
Junior Wells...Everybody's Gettin' Some
Keb' Mo'...Slow Down
Keb' Mo'...Big Wide Grin
Keb' Mo'...Just Like You
Keb' Mo'...Keb' Mo'
Kelly Joe Phelps...Lead me on
Kenny Wayne Shepherd...Ledbetter Heights
Kenny Wayne Shepherd...Live On
Kenny Wayne Shepherd...Trouble is
Kevin Duke...Rollin' On
Led Zeppelin...BBC Sessions
Little Charlie & The Nightcats...Shadow of the Blues
Lonnie Mack...Live - Attack of the Killer V
Lucky Peterson...Beyond Cool
Luther Allison...Soul Fixin Man
Magic Dick & Jay Geils...Bluestime
Magic Slim & The Teardrops...Anything can happen
Marcia Ball...Let me play with your poodle
Marcia Ball...Presumed innocent
Maria Muldaur...Meet me where they play the blues
Maria Muldaur...Richland Woman Blues
Maurice John Vaughn...In The Shadow Of The City
Michael Bloomfield...Don't Say That I Ain't Your Man
Michael Coleman...Do your thing
Mighty "Mo" Rodgers...Blues is my wallin' wall
Monster Mike Welch...Axe To Grind
Muddy Waters...The Best Of Muddy Waters
Muddy Waters...Folk Singer
Noah Wotherspoon & the stratocats...Buzz Me
Otis Rush...Any Place I'm Going
Rita Chiarelli...Breakfast at Midnight
Rita Chiarelli...What a Night - "Live"
R.L. Burnside...Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down
Robert Cray...Strong Persuader
Robert Cray Band...Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark
Robert Cray Band...Some Rainy Morning
Ronnie Earl...Ronnie Earl & friends
Ronnie Earl...Healing Time
Ronnie Earl...I feel Like Goin' on
Ronnie Earl...Now My Soul
Ronnie Earl / Duke Robillard...The Duke meets the Earl
Rory Block...I'm Every Woman
Roy Gaines...Bluesman For Life
Roy Gaines...I Got the T-Bone Walker Blues
Ruthie Foster...Runaway Soul
Smokin' Joe Kubek Band...Texas Cadillac
Smokin' Joe Kubek Band...Bite Me !
Smokin' Joe Kubek Band...Cryin' For The Moon
Smokin' Joe Kubek Band...Take your best shot
Smokin' Joe Kubek Band...Got My Mind Back
Smokin' Joe Kubek Band...Roadhouse Research
Sonny Landreth...The Road We're On
Sonny Landreth...Grant Street
Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble...Blues at Sunrise
Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble...Soul To Soul
Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble...Texas Flood
Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble...Couldn't Stand the Weather
Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble...The Sky Is Crying
Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble...In Step
Susan Tedeschi...Just Won't Burn
Susan Tedeschi...Live from Austin Tx.(Auston City Limits concert)
Susan Tedeschi...Hope and Desire
Taj Mahal...In progress & In motion (1965 to 1998)
Terry Evans...Blues for Thought
Tommy Castro...Exception To The Rule
Various Artists...From Matrimony to Alimony
Various Artists...The Blues White Album
Various Artists...BAR ROOM BLUES
Various Artists...Blues for a Rotten afternoon
Various Artists...Pure Blues
Various Artists...The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions
Various Artists Whole lotta Blues...Songs of Led Zeppelin
Various Artists 1995...We Are The Blues
Walter Trout...Walter Trout
Walter Trout...Go the Distance
Walter Trout...Live Trout (2 Disc)
ZZ Top...One foot in the blues
Let me know how you like "His Best" (Chess) by Sonny Boy. It is one of my all-time favorite records, and I would recommend it as essential for anyone discovering the blues.
Take Ngjockeys advise and first select a style. I find that many styles suit my tastes. Some of my favorites in Chicago Blues are, Luther Allison, Tinsley Ellis, Smokin Joe Kubreck, Bryan Lee, old Fleetwood Mac (with Peter Green) Roy Gaines, and don't forget the classics Muddy Waters & Howlin' Wolf. Go to blues365.com and listen online.
BB's Live at the Regal is bar none my fav blues disc.
Lighting Hopkins/sonny terry Last Night's blues = close 2nd
Muddy waters live on chess is a good one too
I also second teh recommendations for Lighting Hopkins - Goin Away and the Albert King/SRV album.
Albert Collins- Was a great showman and has lot of great tunes.
Freddie King- Great vocals and welded a mean axe.
Albert King- Yo can hear where SRV got his sound
Johnny Winter/ Muddy Waters- Match made in heaven. Johnny work on Alligator records is great.
Robert Cray- very smooth
I would recommend you go to Alligator records site. Many great cds.
Last fun recommendation- Paint it Blues and Whole lot of Blues- one is a blues cover of the stone and the other zepplin. Very good stuff.