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Alligator Records 40th Anniversary 2-CD Set
Forty-one years ago, a blues lover named Bruce Iglauer walked into Florence's Lounge on the south side of Chicago and caught a set by his favorite band, Hound Dog Taylor & the HouseRockers. Within a year of that Sunday afternoon, Iglauer recorded and pressed 1,000 copies of Hound Dog Taylor & The HouseRockers, and Alligator Records was born. Forty years and nearly 300 releases later, Alligator (and Iglauer himself) is a blues institution, having represented some of the greatest blues artists of the past four decades, including the aforementioned Taylor, as well as Son Seals, Johnny Winter, Koko Taylor, Albert Collins, and Tommy Castro.
To celebrate their 40th anniversary, or as Iglauer coins it, 40 years of "genuine houserockin' music," Alligator has released a special 2-CD set that spans the label's existence. As you might imagine, choosing the best 38 tracks to represent the label for this collection was rather challenging. "I wanted to represent the whole history of the label," says Iglauer, "from our early artists like Son Seals, koko Taylor and of course Hound Dog Taylor to the current roster, which includes blues artists like Michael 'Iron Man' Burks, and Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials but also visionary roots artists like JJ Grey & Mofro and Anders Osborne ... What ties all of these songs and styles together is the spirit of 'Genuine Houserockin' Music.'"
He later continues, "When I created Alligator Records, the very first promo piece used to promote that Hound Dog Taylor album was titled 'Genuine Houserockin' Music.' That became our slogan, and we wear it proudly today.... Over the 40 years, our definition of 'Genuine Houserockin' Music' has expanded to include not only pure blues artists, but also musicians and songwriters who have taken the spirit of the blues and created their own sounds and styles, sometimes called roots rock or rockabilly or front porch soul or, in a few cases, gospel, the ultimate soul-rockin' music. But our mission has remained the same—to record honest, blues-infused music that moves the feet and soothes the soul, and hopefully makes you feel as good as a Sunday afternoon at Florence's Lounge."
Although a song-by-song review isn't feasible in this short space, suffice it to say that this collection will be living in my CD player and iPod for some time to come. And because Iglauer is traditionally a "guitar man," our beloved instrument is beyond well-represented here. It's the kind of disc you can jam along to and 80 minutes flies by like 10.
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