Various Artists

Get the Blues: Alligator Records & Black Top Records Blues Sampler

by Barbara Flaska


You might never find this tremendous blues anthology. Get the Blues was a special promotional deal with Tower Records. But if you want to get the blues, check out the great Alligator Houserocking Music samplers. In the olden days, folk record companies introduced their roster of recording artists on a collection, so people got to sample a goodly variety of what a record company could offer. As an added enticement, anthologies were usually priced out a little cheaper than a regular record. This marketing strategy usually paid off well for companies and their artists. The record buying public was happy, too, getting a lot of bang for their musical buck. Alligator offers dynamite label samplers.

Get the Blues is “Low Down and Dirty,” just like Luther Allison’s raucous opening song. The nine tracks are some of the best contemporary upbeat blues anybody could ever want. Like Steady Rollin Bob Margolin says here, “Enough down and out, It’s time for up and in.”

cover art

Various Artists

Get the Blues: Alligator Records & Black Top Records Blues Sampler


Corey Harris on “High Fever Blues” gives a sample of the horn and acoustic guitar sound you’ll recognize that Ry Cooder was striving for in his earlier works, but one that Corey achieves here beautifully.

Closest thing to the blues speed metal is the astonishing overhand slide of Dave Hole on “Hawaiian Boogie.” Dave Hole taught himself to play blues guitar by first getting his hands on some hard to get blues records as a teenager in Perth, Australia. Last cut is the energetic Bobby Radcliff live from the Rynborn, playing his heart out on “The Introject.” This is the kind of blues you usually only hear as a call to close the club at 4 a.m., when your throat’s raw from oversmoking and tired from shouting your drink orders; everybody’s ready to break for the night and the band helps us muster up energy to head out for another place that opens for breakfast as soon as the other clubs close.

I went straight over to the funky ambiance of Alligator’s website to find more mouthwatering music and touring schedules for the artists. You can find out where, for instance, Bobby Radcliff is playing and get down to see and hear him live onstage. If you can’t do that, the site posts information on radio appearances, so you might be able to catch one of these fine artists performing on National Public Radio or on Alligator’s own new Internet radio station.

I know you might sometimes “get the blues” you just might not get this particular version. Buck up, “Get the Blues” is still listed at Tower’s site online as a special order for 99 (that’s right) 99 cents. Try some of the other tantalizing Houserocking Music Vols. 1-5. Each CD in the Houserocking series is less than eight dollars, for which modest sum you are treated to a generous number of tracks and can hear players like Lonnie Brooks, Charles Musselwhite, Anson Funderburgh and Sam Myers, and more. Blues for people who know good value.

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