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Qobuz’s experts gather all the essentials of each genre. These albums have marked music history and become major landmarks.

With the Ideal Discography you (re)discover legendary recordings, all whilst building on your musical knowledge.

Albums

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Blues - Released March 31, 2014 | Ace Records

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Two songs into Every Day I Have the Blues, T-Bone Walker starts singing a slow-crawling 12-bar blues about "Vietnam," a pretty good indication that this 1969 LP belongs to its era. That's not the only way this record evokes its time. Released on Bob Thiele's newly launched Bluestime imprint, this is redolent of every production trend of the late '60s: topical songs compete for space with fuzz guitar, tracks that stretch out, way out, as both Walker and his supporting band get a lot of space to solo. Compared to other LPs from Bluestime -- including The Real Boss of the Blues by Big Joe Turner and Otis Spann's Sweet Giant of the Blues, both reissued in 2014 simultaneously with this Walker record -- Every Day I Have the Blues is more about the sounds and feel of 1969, which makes sense. Turner belonged to the '50s and Spann was an amiable session man but Walker was a frontman ready to ride the wave of fashion, hopefully getting toward the charts but, more realistically, garnering just enough attention to get back into the studio one more time. Every Day is filled with his signature single-note runs -- he was never less than a consummate guitarist -- and he amiably plays with the burbling organ, slightly too bawdy horns, and too loose rhythms. What's fun here is that very distant disconnect, how Walker doesn't fully embrace his new surroundings but is game anyway, playing up a storm on otherwise undistinguished instrumentals like "T-Bone Blues Special" and launching a cut called "For B.B. King" that is inexplicably based on Ray Charles' "Lonely Avenue" and finds T-Bone playing in his own style, never once attempting B.B.'s runs. Then again, much of the pleasure of this record is hearing Walker stay true to himself, no matter what his band does. He's happy to groove, he'll weather the fashions but he won't change his style, and that makes for an enjoyable listen. [Ace's 2014 reissue is augmented by two tracks originally released on the live 1970 LP Super Black Blues, Vol. 2.] © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 25, 2013 | Epic - Legacy

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Blues - Released April 22, 2011 | Columbia - Legacy

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Blues - Released February 10, 2010 | Columbia

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Although Huddie Ledbetter had recorded for the Library of Congress while still in jail in 1933, King of the 12-String Guitar contains some of the music from his earliest commercial recording date, only five months after getting out of prison for the second (and final) time. The majority of the material (other than the first four numbers) consists of alternate takes and previously unissued performances, although some of the numbers were formerly out on LPs by Folkways or Biograph. The music (ranging from blues to folk music) is highly recommended both to veteran collectors (who otherwise probably do not have most of these cuts) and to those just discovering the legendary and unique musician. Forty-six at the time, Leadbelly's powerful voice and his work on 12-string guitar are consistently memorable. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Blues - Released August 17, 2009 | Universal Music Mexico

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Blues - Released August 17, 2009 | Saga

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Blues - Released June 18, 2009 | Alligator Records

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Ice Pickin' is the album that brought Albert Collins directly back into the limelight, and for good reason, too. The record captures the wild, unrestrained side of his playing that had never quite been documented before. Though his singing doesn't quite have the fire or power of his playing, the album doesn't suffer at all because of that -- he simply burns throughout the album. Ice Pickin' was his first release for Alligator Records and it set the pace for all the albums that followed. No matter how much he tried, Collins never completely regained the pure energy that made Ice Pickin' such a revelation. © Thom Owens /TiVo
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Blues - Released June 18, 2009 | Alligator Records

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The first album and the perfect place to start. Wild, raucous, crazy music straight out of the South Side clubs. The incessant drive of Hound Dog's playing is best heard on "Give Me Back My Wig," "55th Street Boogie," and "Taylor's Rock," while the sound of Brewer Phillips' Telecaster on "Phillips' Theme" gives new meaning to the phrase "sheet metal tone." One of the greatest slide guitar albums of all time. © Cub Koda /TiVo
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Blues - Released August 18, 2008 | Columbia

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Johnny's second Columbia album shows an artist in transition. He's still obviously a Texas bluesman, recording in the same trio format that he left Dallas with. But his music is moving toward the more rock & roll sounds he would go on to create. The opener, "Memory Pain," moves him into psychedelic blues-rock territory, while old-time rockers like "Johnny B. Goode," "Miss Ann," and "Slippin' and Slidin'" provide him with familiar landscapes on which to spray his patented licks. His reworking of Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" is the high spot of the record, a career-defining track that would remain a major component in his set list to the end of his life. © Cub Koda /TiVo
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Blues - Released July 7, 2008 | Ace Records

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Like most things, listening to the blues should be approached with a sense of wonder, as if listening for the first time. Such is the way one should listen to John Lee Hooker’s music. The tracks in this album are among John Lee Hooker’s first, dating back 70 years on average. His fans will know his tracks by heart; others will at least recognise the style. And yet, listening and re-listening to these tracks is never a chore. On the classic Boogie Chillen, his breakthrough hit, we are reminded of how astounding his work is. His way of composing songs without a plan, the rusty-metal sound, the voice of this charming Prince of Darkness, and the way he taps his foot along to the rhythm and smooth boogie… no one played like that before John Lee Hooker, no one could come close. Many tried afterwards, but could never manage to completely imitate the original. Ailing from Mississippi before settling in Detroit where he began his career, John Lee Hooker created this style, and there he remained his whole life. Later on, he released records in which he was accompanied by other musicians, even white blues, rock and jazz stars (like Miles Davis). But it’s here, alone as an already revered artist on these twenty tracks, that he made his legend. © Stéphane Deschamps/Qobuz
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Blues - Released March 4, 2005 | Silvertone

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This Grammy-winning comeback set brought Buddy Guy back to prominence after a long studio hiatus. There are too many clichéd cover choices -- "Five Long Years," "Mustang Sally," "Black Night," "There Is Something on Your Mind" -- to earn unreserved recommendation, but Guy's frenetic guitar histrionics ably cut through the superstar-heavy proceedings (Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Mark Knopfler all turn up) on the snarling title cut and a handful of others. © Bill Dahl /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1997 | Geffen*

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B.B. King is not only a timeless singer and guitarist, he's also a natural-born entertainer, and on Live at the Regal the listener is treated to an exhibition of all three of his talents. Over percolating horn hits and rolling shuffles, King treats an enthusiastic audience (at some points, they shriek after he delivers each line) to a collection of some of his greatest hits. The backing band is razor-sharp, picking up the leader's cues with almost telepathic accuracy. King's voice is rarely in this fine of form, shifting effortlessly between his falsetto and his regular range, hitting the microphone hard for gritty emphasis and backing off in moments of almost intimate tenderness. Nowhere is this more evident than at the climax of "How Blue Can You Get," where the Chicago venue threatens to explode at King's prompting. Of course, the master's guitar is all over this record, and his playing here is among the best in his long career. Displaying a jazz sensibility, King's lines are sophisticated without losing their grit. More than anything else, Live at the Regal is a textbook example of how to set up a live performance. Talking to the crowd, setting up the tunes with a vignette, King is the consummate entertainer. Live at the Regal is an absolutely necessary acquisition for fans of B.B. King or blues music in general. A high point, perhaps even the high point, for uptown blues. © Daniel Gioffre /TiVo
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Blues - Released June 18, 1992 | Legacy - Columbia

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After being rediscovered by the folk-blues community in the early '60s, Son House rose to the occasion and recorded this magnificent set of performances. Allowed to stretch out past the shorter running time of the original 78s, House turns in wonderful, steaming performances of some of his best-known material. On some tracks, House is supplemented by folk-blues researcher/musician Alan Wilson, who would later become a member of the blues-rock group Canned Heat and here plays some nice second guitar and harmonica on several cuts. This two-disc set features alternate takes, some unissued material and some studio chatter from producer John Hammond, Sr. that ocassionally hints at the chaotic nature inherent to some of these '60s "rediscovery" sessions. While not as overpowering as his earlier work (what could be?), all of these sides are so power packed with sheer emotional involvement from House, they're an indispensable part of his canonade © Cub Koda /TiVo
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Blues - Released August 28, 1990 | Columbia

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If you're following the 30-plus year career of Bill Broonzy and already have the two early compilations available on Yazoo, here's where you go next. These are basically ensemble works covering the time frame between 1930 to 1940 and Broonzy sounds very comfortable in the company of Blind John Davis and Joshua Altheimer. The 20 tracks compiled here (culled from various Vocalion, ARC and Columbia sessions) sound pretty great, benefitting mightily from modern sound restoration devices. © Cub Koda /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1990 | Vanguard Records

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The guitarist's first album away from Chess -- and to be truthful, it sounds as though it could have been cut at 2120 S. Michigan, with Guy's deliciously understated guitar work and a tight combo anchored by three saxes and pianist Otis Spann laying down tough grooves on the vicious "Mary Had a Little Lamb," "I Can't Quit the Blues," and an exultant cover of Mercy Dee's "One Room Country Shack." © Bill Dahl /TiVo
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Blues - Released June 6, 1989 | Epic

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Stevie Ray Vaughan had always been a phenomenal guitarist, but prior to In Step, his songwriting was hit or miss. Even when he wrote a classic modern blues song, it was firmly within the genre's conventions; only on Soul to Soul's exquisite soul-blues "Life Without You" did he attempt to stretch the boundaries of the form. As it turns out, that was the keynote for In Step, an album where Vaughan found his own songwriting voice, blending blues, soul, and rock in unique ways, and writing with startling emotional honesty. Yes, there are a few covers, all well chosen, but the heart of the album rests in the songs he co-wrote with Doyle Bramhall, the man who penned the Soul to Soul highlight "Change It." Bramhall proved to be an ideal collaborator for Vaughan; tunes like the terse "Tightrope" and the dense "Wall of Denial" feel so intensely personal, it's hard to believe that they weren't the product of just one man. Yet the lighter numbers -- the dynamite boogie "The House Is Rockin'" and the breakneck blues of "Scratch-n-Sniff" -- are just as effective as songs. Of course, he didn't need words to make effective music: "Travis Walk" is a blistering instrumental, complete with intricate fingerpicking reminiscent of the great country guitarist Merle Travis, while the shimmering "Riviera Paradise" is every bit as lyrical and lovely as his previous charmer, "Lenny." The magnificent thing about In Step is how it's fully realized, presenting every facet of Vaughan's musical personality, yet it still soars with a sense of discovery. It's a bittersweet triumph, given Vaughan's tragic death a little over a year after its release, yet it's a triumph all the same. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1986 | Mercury Records

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Blues - Released January 1, 1986 | Island Mercury

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The set that made Cray a pop star, despite its enduring blues base. Cray's smoldering stance on "Smoking Gun" and "Right Next Door" rendered him the first sex symbol to emerge from the blues field in decades, but it was his innovative expansion of the genre itself that makes this album a genuine 1980s classic. "Nothing but a Woman" boasts an irresistible groove pushed by the Memphis Horns and some metaphorically inspired lyrics, while "I Wonder" and "Guess I Showed Her" sizzle with sensuality. © Bill Dahl /TiVo
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Blues - Released June 26, 1984 | Legacy - Columbia

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If you've never heard Blind Willie Johnson, you are in for one of the great, bone-chilling treats in music. Johnson played slide guitar and sang in a rasping, false bass that could freeze the blood. But no bluesman was he; this was gospel music of the highest order, full of emotion and heartfelt commitment. Of all the guitar-playing evangelists, Blind Willie Johnson may have been the very best. Though not related by bloodlines to Robert Johnson, comparisons in the emotional commitment of both men cannot be helped. This two-CD anthology collects everything known to exist, and that's a lot of stark, harrowing, emotional commitment no matter how you slice it. Not for the faint of heart, but hey, the good stuff never is. © Cub Koda /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1980 | Columbia - Legacy

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Johnny's second Columbia album shows an artist in transition. He's still obviously a Texas bluesman, recording in the same trio format that he left Dallas with. But his music is moving toward the more rock & roll sounds he would go on to create. The opener, "Memory Pain," moves him into psychedelic blues-rock territory, while old-time rockers like "Johnny B. Goode," "Miss Ann," and "Slippin' and Slidin'" provide him with familiar landscapes on which to spray his patented licks. His reworking of Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" is the high spot of the record, a career-defining track that would remain a major component in his set list to the end of his life. © Cub Koda /TiVo