5. John Lee Hooker – The Legendary Modern Recordings 1948-1954 (Flair Records, 1993)
Released in 1993, The Legendary Modern Recordings 1948-1954 is a 24-track compilation of John Lee Hooker’s early recordings. It contains three of his biggest early hits, “Boogie Chillen”, “I’m In The Mood” and “Crawling King Snake”. These are the recordings that established John Lee Hooker as one of the greatest blues singers and guitarists of all time. John Lee Hooker (August 22, 1917 – June 21, 2001) was born in Mississippi, the son of a sharecropper. He became famous playing an electric-guitar adaptation of Delta blues, adding other elements as talking blues and North Mississippi Hill country blues, and developed his own driving-rhythm boogie style, different from the piano-derived boogie-woogie style.
4. B. B. King – Live At The Regal (ABC Records, 1965)
Released in 1965, Live At The Regal is a live album by legendary American blues guitarist and singer B. B. King. The album, recorded on November 21, 1964 at the Regal Theater in Chicago, is regarded as one of the greatest blues albums of all time. AllMusic called the album “a textbook example of how to set up a live performance” and B. B. King’s guitar playing as “among the best in his long career”. Rolling Stone magazine called Live At The Regal “B. B. King’s definitive live set. His guitar sound is precise and powerful, driving emotional versions of his most influential songs, Every Day I Have The Blues, and How Blue Can You Get”. The album is ranked number 141 on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 greatest albums of all time.
3. Junior Wells’ Chicago Blues Band – Hoodoo Man Blues (Delmark Records, 1965)
Released in 1965, Hoodoo Man Blues is the debut studio album by American blues vocalist and harmonica player Junior Wells, supported by the Junior Wells’ Chicago Blues Band. The album was a great commercial and critical success, and today it is considered one of the greatest blues albums ever recorded, being included for preservation by the National Recording Registry. Bill Dahl of AllMusic called Hoodoo Man Blues “the first to fully document, in the superior acoustics of a recording studio, the smoky ambience of a night at a West Side nightspot.” Junior Wells along with guitarist Buddy Guy, bassist Jack Myers, and drummer Billy Warren recorded one of the essential albums for the electric Chicago blues fans.
2. Magic Sam Blues Band – West Side Soul (Delmark Records, 1967)
Released in 1967, West Side Soul is the debut studio album by American Chicago blues musician Magic Sam. The album is considered one of the greatest blues albums of all time, the model for most modern electric blues. Born in Grenada, Mississippi, Samuel “Magic Sam” Gene Maghett (February 14, 1937 – December 1, 1969) was an amazing bluesman, known for his distinctive tremolo-guitar playing, his impassionated vocals, and his songwriting. On West Side Soul he showcased all of his talents producing a timeless masterpiece. AllMusic called the music on the LP “alive, vibrant and vital – nothing sounds as tortured as “I Need You So Bad”, no boogie is as infectious as “Mama, Mama Talk To Your Daughter”, no blues as haunting as “All Of Your Love”. West Side Soul is an essential record in blues history, by one of blues music’s greatest guitarists and vocalists.
1. Robert Johnson – King Of The Delta Blues Singers (Columbia Records, 1961)
Released in 1961, King Of The Delta Blues Singers is a compilation album by American blues musician Robert Johnson. The LP is considered one of the greatest and most influential blues albums ever recorded. The album contains 16 mono tracks, originally recorded in November 1936, in San Antonio, Texas, and June 1937, in Dallas, Texas. In 1961, when the album was released Robert Johnson was mostly a rumor, very little was known about his life, except to a small group of collectors, and those who purchased the original 78s recordings. Robert Leroy Johnson was born on May 8, 1911, in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, and died on August 16, 1938, in Greenwood, Mississippi. Johnson’s poorly documented life, and death at age 27, have given way to much legend, including the myth that he sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads to achieve success. Playing mostly on street corners, Saturday night dances, or in juke joints Johnson had little commercial success in his lifetime. After the release of King Of The Delta Blues Singers, he became recognized as a master of the blues, especially the Mississippi Delta blues style. The Los Angeles Times wrote that the album “revolutionized the Mississippi Delta style that became the foundation of the Chicago blues sound.” Bob Dylan, who had never heard of Johnson before King Of The Delta Blues Singers, was fascinated by the intensity of the recordings, while Eric Clapton cited the LP as an early inspiration on his career, and called Robert Johnson “the most important blues singer that ever lived”. King Of The Delta Blues Singers was ranked number 27 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, while Robert Johnson was ranked fifth in Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.