Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Alligator Records 45th Anniversary Collection

It has been 5 years since Alligator Records produced its last label retrospective/sampler, so now it has issued the two-disc "Alligator Records 45th Anniversary Collection," that allows Bruce Iglauer to mix some of the recordings from the label's history with tracks from more recent recordings. So a typical driving rocker from a 2008 Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials release is followed by some searing Son Seals from his 1973 debut recording.

Rather than go through every artist and track, let me say that there is plenty of fine music here, even if some of the performances are not to my taste. Listening to Shemekia Copeland's rendition of her father's "Devil's Hand," one is impressed by the freshness of her rendition, and roots artist JJ Grey and Mofro is one of the more compelling artists Alligator has promoted over the past decade or so. It certainly is a teat to hear fresh new (not necessarily young) voices such as Toronzo Cannon, Jarekus Singleton and Selwyn Birchwood, along with the bluesy roots of Moreland & Arbuckle. Then one has vintage Koko Taylor doing "Voodoo Woman" from her first Alligator album along with Jimmy Johnson's "Your Turn to Cry" from the "Living Chicago Blues" series.

The rockabilly of Lee Rocker is mixed in with the roadhouse blues-country of Delbert McClinton and the rollicking Gulf Coast boogie of Marcia Ball. And it certainly is a treat to listen to A.C. Reed with Bonnie Raitt guesting, along with some sizzling live Luther Allison and the gospel of Mavis Staples and the Holmes Brothers. Both Guitar Shorty and Joe Louis Walker have been prominent relatively recent additions to Alligator's catalog although I would suggest that these are not the best recordings of their career. Of course, lets not forget selections by Billy Boy Arnold, Lazy Lester and Charlie Musselwhite.

Bruce Iglauer provides both an overview on the label and all the performances included. With about two and half hours of music among the 37 performances on these two-discs, it is priced as if it was a single disc so it represents good value along with the good music.

I reeeived my review copy from Alligator. This review appeared in the July-August 2016 issue of Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 367).

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