Alligator Records is celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. In it’s four decades, the label has become a premier source of amazing blues content, much of it in the Chicago variety where Alligator calls home. Alligator has recorded most of the country’s greatest talents, and having to pick the best of forty years of greatness must have been no small task. The result was an amazing lineup that spans two shy of 40 tracks and dozens upon dozens of artists. The first track opens with Koko Taylor’s response to Bo Diddley’s famous “I’m A Man”. Taylor belts out her trademark “OH Yeah”! The heavy bass kicks off and the album simply doesn’t stop toe groove from there.
The two-disc collection reads like an all-star blues cast: Guitar Shorty, Marcia Ball, Buddy Guy & Junior Wells, Anders Osborne, Albert Collins, Elvin Bishop, Mavis Staples, JJ Grey & Mofro, just to name a few. To pick standout tracks from the set would be futile as Alligator, in essence, picked out some of the greatest songs of their long, fertile life-to-date.
Overall, the set is a proud celebration of Alligator’s many towering accomplishments over the years, and a shining reminder that Alligator simply doesn’t stop releasing damn good blues. Most blues enthusiasts will probably hear a few familiar songs from past albums, which is likely to result in re-discovering old albums all over again. The $16.98 price tag is astoundingly low, and for the 38 tracks from a who’s who of blues musicians that come with it, is one of, if not the best valued album this year.