Best of 2010
9:36 pm
Sat January 1, 2011

John Kessler's top ten blues albums of 2010

He's made his list, and checked it twice. KPLU All Blues host John Kessler has his 2010 top 10 blues albums list, and he's ready to share it with you.  What albums are on your list? Which from John's list would you not include?  Let's hear what you have to say!

John Kessler's Top 10 Blues Albums of 2010:

Buddy Guy - Buddy Guy, Living Proof, (Slivertone)

Blues Rock

Arguably the king of Chicago blues today, Buddy Guy has kept the passion that distinguished him from beginning. Proud and defiant, these autobiographical songs tell his story, starting in a Louisiana shack with a 2 string guitar, and building a career where he now “drinks wine with kings”. Success hasn’t spoiled Buddy Guy- at age 74, his voice has mellowed to a pleasing rasp, and his guitar still explodes with fury.


Sean Costello - Derek Trucks Band, Roadsongs, (Masterworks)

R & B

This live double cd includes many of the best songs from their 2009 Grammy-award winning cd Already Free. The material is strong to begin with, the live recording quality is great, and the band is playing at their very best, honed by months on the road. Since Derek Trucks and wife Susan Tedeschi are now touring together, this release may the last incarnation of this lineup of the band.


Eddie Turner - Eddie Turner, Miracles and Demons,(Northern Blues)

Modern Blues

Once a guitarist with progressive blues man Otis Taylor, Eddie Turner has a unique and modern approach to the blues. You can tell he’s been to “blues school”, but he’s also very studio-savvy, and slyly incorporates bits of electronic sensibility into his tracks. These are smart songs, an interesting combination of grit and polish.


JJ Grey and Mofro - JJ Grey and Mofro, Georgia Warhorse, (Alligator Records)

R & B

You might think that Otis Redding stumbled into a Creedence Clearwater Revival session, hearing Mofro for the first time. With a musical sound firmly rooted in swampy southern blues-rock, JJ Grey’s voice brings another element of southern culture into the picture—soul music, with it’s sense of emotion and drama.


Joe Bonamassa - Joe Bonamassa, Black Rock, (Premier Artists)

Blues Rock

Being such an accomplished player gives Bonamassa a lot of choices, making this a diverse, if unfocused release. Whether blasting out one of his original blues-rockers, or trading licks with BB King, he shows great sense for timing, tone and arrangement. An interesting collection of songs, including tunes written by Leonard Cohen and John Hiatt, as well as Otis Rush and Bobby Parker.


Sonny Landreth - Trombone Shorty, Backatown, (Verve Forecast)

Funk

He calls his music "supafunkrock", so you kind of know what to expect. This major label debut from the 24 year old New Orleans virtuoso will make you feel like you are at the party. Exuberant, fun, and bursting with energy, this record successfully recreates the energy of their live show.


Janiva Magness - Janiva Magness, The Devil is an Angel Too, (Alligator Records)

R & B

Janiva Magness has been making a gradual transition from singing traditional blues to rhythm and blues and soul music. On her 8th album the transition is complete, and she has found several great but under-covered tunes to dig into. Quirky instrumentation keeps the covers from sounding predictable.


Janiva Magnes - Magic Slim & the Teardrops, Raising the Bar, (Blind Pig)

Blues

Magic Slim is keeping the sound of Chicago blues alive. He rightfully knows what that sound is, having established himself as a contender in the amazingly competitive Chicago of the 1960’s. This is not an anachronistic record, after all Slim has been making great blues for decades, it just sounds more real as time goes by.


Irma Thomas - Moreland and Arbuckle, Flood, (Telarc)

Blues

Plenty of raw energy, combined with some serious blues chops make for a very enjoyable debut album from a pair of younger Kansas players. Like the White Stripes, they use no bass player, but provide plenty of drive and grit with their intensity and attack.


Jim Byrnes - Jim Byrnes, Everywhere West, (Black Hen)

Folk Blues

A gentle yet provocative release from this thinking-man’s bluesman, who is also an accomplished actor (Highlander). Full of unexpected sonic textures and surprising instrumental choices, Jim Byrnes reminds me of Tom Waits at times, you can count on him to be irreverent and slightly unsettling.