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Double LP featuring 50 years of iconic star-studded recordings!
From Hound Dog Taylor, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, J.J. Grey & Mofro, Koko Taylor, Johnny Winter, Tommy Castro, Marcia Ball, Albert Collins, Luther Allison, James Cotton, Toronzo Cannon and many more!
"You could say that Alligator Records was born in a little neighborhood South Side Chicago bar in January of 1970, almost two years before the label's first release. That's the first time I was overwhelmed by the most joyful, exhilarating, spirit-lifting music of my life — the blues of Hound Dog Taylor & The HouseRockers. It was at Florence's Lounge, on a gritty side street of run-down houses, on a snowy Sunday afternoon. This life-altering music was created by just three men-Hound Dog Taylor, playing a cheap Japanese guitar with a steel slide encasing the fifth of his six fingers (true!) and singing in a high-pitched voice into a microphone plugged into a guitar amplifier; Brewer Phillips, propelling each song with ever-changing bass lines played on a Fender Telecaster guitar, and Ted Harvey, driving the band with rocking grooves played on a minimalist drum kit.
"It was blues, but it sure wasn't sad blues. It was blues to make you forget your blues, to make you holler and dance and throw away your troubles. But it could turn serious, slow and cathartic. Hound Dog, playing searing slide and singing about love gone wrong in his ragged, just-on-the-verge-of-cracking voice, could reach inside you, grab you by the soul, and squeeze hard.
"When I started Alligator back in 1971, I knew a little bit about the record business. I had learned from watching my mentor, hero and boss, Bob Koester, founder of Delmark Records, whom I had talked into hiring me as the label's shipping clerk. I went to every Delmark recording session in 1970 and 1971, saw Bob interact with and inspire musicians, listened to him on the phone with distributors, and packed every LP Delmark shipped to critics, radio stations, mail order customers and distributors. I hung on his every word as he shared his years of accumulated wisdom learned from running a tiny blues and jazz label.
"But Bob didn't spend much energy reaching out to the growing new audience for the blues-an audience like me-college-aged kids who had discovered blues by listening to the Stones or Yardbirds or Paul Butterfield, or maybe from hearing acoustic blues at folk music festivals, like I did. They were reading new publications called Rolling Stone or Creem, and listening to "progressive rock" radio stations that were playing everything from the Beatles to Motown to Coltrane to Joni Mitchell to B.B. King. I knew that if I was so energized and excited by Hound Dog Taylor's music, that young audience and those radio stations and those publications would love his music as much as I did. So, when I founded Alligator, a label with one LP in its catalog, I reached out to those radio stations and those publications. I sent out hundreds of promo copies, and visited as many stations as I could. And, much to my delight, the DJs and writers fell in love with Hound Dog, too.
"My one-man record company, housed in an efficiency apartment where I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor, was getting national and international radio play and press coverage. Plus, I was able to sell enough Hound Dog albums to afford to make the second Alligator release, a summit meeting of two of the world's best harmonica players, Big Walter Horton With Carey Bell. By then, I had become Hound Dog's booking agent, manager, publicist, song publisher and part-time driver.
It wasn't until 1978 that Alligator signed its first non-Chicagoan, the legendary Texas-born guitar giant Albert Collins, "The Master Of The Telecaster." Albert came to Alligator with a worldwide reputation as a thrilling, top-echelon blues guitarist. With his Alligator debut, Ice Pickin' (which I co-produced with Dick Shurman), he finally made a record that matched the level of his overwhelmingly powerful live performances. Ice Pickin' announced Alligator as more than a Chicago label. During the 1980s, my little label signed artists from all across the country.
"As we rolled into the 1990s, established artists like harmonica great Charlie Musselwhite, zydeco accordion hero C.J. Chenier and Piedmont acoustic blues duo Cephas & Wiggins found a home at Alligator. Through an arrangement with Germany's Ruf Records, we released four albums by the amazing Luther Allison, a Chicago legend who had relocated to Europe. Between 1994 and his tragic death from cancer in 1997, Luther became the most popular artist on Alligator, returning to the U.S. to deliver thrilling, hours-long performances, including his incredibly powerful set at the 1995 Chicago Blues Festival. But we were also determined to continue to bring new names to the forefront. Australian slide guitar wizard Dave Hole, brilliant California harp player William Clarke, and visionaries like young Corey Harris and cutting-edge New York guitarist/songwriter Michael Hill, all became Alligator artists. Plus, the most charismatic blues/roots singer of her generation, Shemekia Copeland, cut the first of her seven genre-bending Alligator albums in 1998, at the age of 18.
"Today, after 50 years, Alligator remains proudly independent and still 100% dedicated to Genuine Houserockin' Music. With a roster that includes beloved veterans like Marcia Ball, Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials, Elvin Bishop and Roomful Of Blues, rising stars like Selwyn Birchwood and Toronzo Cannon, and the 22-year-old sensation Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, we are committed to the past, present and future of the tradition." — Bruce Iglauer, 2021
|1. Give Me Back My Wig - Hound Dog Taylor & The HouseRockers|
|2. ’m A Woman - Koko Taylor|
|3. Have Mercy - Big Walter Horton with Carey Bell|
|4. Somebody Loan Me A Dime - Fenton Robinson|
|5. What You See Is What You Get - Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials|
|6. Telephone Angel - Son Seals|
|7. Blue Monday Hangover - Albert Collins|
|8. Little Car Blues - James Cotton|
|9. Lights Out - Johnny Winter|
|10. Soul Fixin’ Man (live) - Luther Allison|
|11. Cold Lonely Nights (live) - Lonnie Brooks|
|12. The Uppity Blues Women-Sloppy Drunk - Saffire|
|1. Party Town - Marcia Ball|
|2. Make It Back To Memphis (live) - Tommy Castro & The Painkillers|
|3. Midnight Hour Blues - Elvin Bishop & Charlie Musselwhite|
|4. Living In A Burning House - Selwyn Birchwood|
|5. You Didn’t Think About That - Coco Montoya|
|6. I’m Running - Rick Estrin & The Nightcats|
|7. Outside Of This Town - Christone “Kingfish” Ingram|
|8. Clotilda’s On Fire - Shemekia Copeland|
|9. The Longer That I Live - Curtis Salgado|
|10. A Woman (live) - JJ Grey & Mofro|
|11. Ice Cream In Hell - Tinsley Ellis|
|12. The Chicago Way - Toronzo Cannon|