Let's start with the obvious. It is hard to list only nine great blues albums. However, every album on this list has stood the test of time. They are solid musical statements featuring some of the most renowned musicians to ever live. These records have affected the lives of millions of people around the world. They were recorded decades ago, but are still relevant today. Without further due, here are the top nine blues albums in history.
Born Under a Bad Sign - Albert King
One of the most influential albums ever. Born Under a Bad Sign has permeated the music of greats such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. This album was Albert King's second compilation and features some of the bluesman's best work. The title track is a blues standard and depicts what the blues is all about. It was released in 1967 and inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
King of the Delta Blues Singers - Robert Johnson
Legend has it that Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for mastery of the blues. You might not believe the first part of that sentence. But the second part is definitely true. Robert Johnson was a master of the blues like no other and King of the Delta Blues Singers is proof of that. The influence of this album is immense and goes beyond blues music. King of the Delta Blues Singers is a must-have for any music lover.
Are You Experienced - Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix took the blues to another level. Nobody has ever matched Jimi Hendrix’s combination of feeling, emotion, poise, and sheer musicality. Are You Experienced is the album that made him famous. It is considered by many one of the greatest albums ever.
Are You Experienced was released when Hendrix was struggling financially as an unknown musician. It went on to become a commercial and critical success. However, few knew that it would stand the test of time and be regarded as one of the greatest ever half a century later.
Singin' the Blues - B.B. King
The one and only B.B. King is arguably the king of the blues. With just a few notes he could grab your emotions and penetrate your soul. Singin' the Blues displays B.B. King's exceptional taste and blues DNA. This album is a compilation of his classic hits and most of the songs included have become a staple of the blues around the world. B.B. King is in top shape in this album and his legendary tone and vibrato can be heard throughout.
Texas Flood - Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
Stevie Ray Vaughan picked up where the previous blues giants left off. In Texas Flood, Vaughan displays a tremendous level of technique and control of the instrument that was rare for a Blues player at that time.
Vaughan is known for having one of the most sought-after guitar tones and is still extensively imitated today. Texas Flood is the first album from the blues master, and one of the most important and influential.
West Side Soul - Magic Sam Blues Band
Magic Sam was a huge part of the famous Chicago blues sound. His first album West Side Soul was released in 1967. It has long been regarded as one of the greatest and most influential blues albums ever. In true blues fashion, it is the first of only two albums that Magic Sam recorded under his name. He died tragically at the young age of 32. Even then, his music lives on and his influence is still present through albums like West Side Soul.
The Legendary Modern Recordings 1948-1954 - John Lee Hooker
It is hard to think of a recording from 70 years ago as "modern". But at that time, the work of John Lee Hooker was not only modern but solid. The Legendary Modern Recordings 1948-1954 is a compilation of some of John Lee Hooker's best years. His command on the blues, feel and overall appeal are unquestionable. His influence is still present today in the playing of modern blues guitarists. A must-listen for anybody that loves the blues.
Burglar - Freddie King
The last of the three kings of blues, Freddie King was a touring machine. Burglar was his second-to-last album before his death at 42 years old. It features some of the blues' best modern songs and displays King's prowess as a singer and guitar player. Although a fantastic blues album, Burglar also features some funk influences. Overall, it is one of the greatest blues albums ever recorded by one of the best bluesmen to ever walk the earth.
T-Bone Blues - T Bone Walker
This album displays the pioneer of the jump blues and electric blues sound. T-Bone Blues was released in 1959 under the Atlantic label and is still highly influential today. Rolling Stone magazine ranked T-Bone Walker as one of the greatest guitarists of all time and T-Bone Blues is one of the reasons for that. It is another great example of great Chicago blues.
Wrapping it all up
There are many more blues albums to extend this list. We could fill up a book talking about great blues albums. Indulge yourself and also check out the 10 albums every guitarist must know. We live in an unprecedented time in regard to access to information and music. Let's use it to our advantage. And most of all, listen attentively, digest, and enjoy.
That’s it for this week. Stay tuned and…