Two Bluesmen Are Better Than One
More is always better! Ok, not necessarily in all cases; but in this case it definitely is. Because, what’s better than one killer blues musician on an album? Multiple of favorites jamming on the same album! Over the years, some of the greatest blues musicians have combined their unearthly forces and have delivered amazing collaboration albums.
Here is a list of some of our favorite blues collaborations. Let us know some of your top picks!
Riding with the King – B.B. King and Eric Clapton
Let’s start with two of the most recognizable names in the blues: B.B. King and Eric Clapton. Both of these musicians have pioneered blues and blues rock in their own unique ways and are prime examples for what the style should sound like. Their album Riding with King which was released in 2000 was their first joint studio album although they had known each other for some time before. The pair first played together in 1967 when Clapton was just 22 and they didn’t record until 97’ when King added his playing to Clapton’s duets album Deuces Wild. Even though the album did not receive all stellar remarks from critics, it was certified 2x Multi-Platinum and was number one on the Billboards Top Blues Albums. No matter how you slice it, the album is entertaining all the way through and showcases two of the grandmasters of blues music.
Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa
Joe Bonamassa is one of the busiest musicians on the scene right now. Between touring almost three hundred days out of each year he releases at least an album or live show every year and still has time for side projects. His talents span from blues to classic rock and jazz and everything in between. One of his favorite and most successful collaborative efforts is will the powerhouse soul vocalist Beth Hart. The pair met back in 2011 after producer Kevin Shirley introduced them. What transpired from this initial meeting was their first album Don’t Explain which was released in 2011. From there, the duo has released Seesaw in 2013, Live in Amsterdam in 2014, and Black Coffee in 2018. Each album features classic soul and blues tunes offered with a unique Bonamassa and Hart twist. They cover artists like Tina Turner, Tom Waits, Bill Withers, Billie Holiday, and more. Over the past seven years, these incredible musicians have forged a tight musical relationship and continue to release chart-topping music.
No Mercy In this Land – Charlie Musselwhite and Ben Harper
No Mercy in this Land is the sophomore album from the duo of living legend Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica and the talented man of many genres, Ben Harper. Coming off a Grammy win for their previous album, this new one features the skilled musicians giving a masterclass of killer blues tunes. Harper and Musselwhite met back in 1998 when they both were asked to play on a tune by the legendary John Lee Hooker. They became fast friends and had a mutual admiration for each other’s playing style and personality. Their first release was Get Up! in 2013 and showed a smattering of Musselwhite’s swampy style harmonica blues and Harper’s folk, roots, and overall eclectic sound. No Mercy In this Land which was an inevitable release for the two musicians, is a brilliant follow up and one of the best blues releases so far this year. We are probably looking at another Grammy Nominee right here.
In Session – Albert King + Stevie Ray Vaughan
This is one of the most cherished collaborations in blues history, featuring some of the most prized and celebrated guitarists in the genre; and it almost didn’t happen! That’s right, when the television studio in Canada contacted Albert King to appear on a concert series they were planning called In Session, King was hesitant because he was unfamiliar with the name Stevie Ray Vaughan, the musician he was supposed to play with on the segment. On one of the bits of talking in between tracks, it is revealed that once King realized Vaughan was the “skinny kid the he let sit in on a gig in Texas” King quickly obliged and was happy to record the segment. What occurred can only be described has a brilliant blues explosion, with the two veterans having a blast and egging each other on during solos. It was a bit of the old blues styles shaken with Vaughan’s iconic Texas ripping. This album is severely overlooked as an amazing piece of music and should be discovered by anyone who likes great jams!
Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton – John Mayall and the Blues Breakers Featuring Eric Clapton
John Mayall was the leader of one of the most successful collaborative blues projects in history. The band stayed together for seven years (1963-1970) went on hiatus and returned from 1982 – 2008. In these segments, Mayall wrote many successful songs, released several amazing records, and recruited some of the most talented musicians. Some of these include Jack Bruce, Andy Frazer, Paul Butterfield, Blue Mitchell, Walter Trout, Peter Green, Harvey Mandel, Mick Fleetwood, Coco Montoya, and more. One of the best collaboration albums released under Mayall’s name was the Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton. This is one of the Blues Breaker’s most successful and popular records and is an overall incredible blues album. Afterwards, Clapton went on to form Cream but would join Mayall again on Back to the Roots in 1971.
Mr. Lucky – John Lee Hooker
John Lee Hooker was one of the most notable blues musicians, formulating his own brand of “driving-rhythm boogie.” He released troves of amazing records over the years and joined forces with many musicians, because who would turn down that invitation? A stand out JLH record with some stacked personnel is the 1991 release Mr. Lucky. Some of the musicians include Ry Cooder, Robert Cray, Albert Collins, Booker T. Jones (Booker T. and the MGs), Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, and Van Morrison.
We’re All in This Together – Walter Trout
Walter Trout has been performing since 1969, has been in many different bands including canned heat, and continues to be representation of a killer blues guitarist. For many years, Trout has been battling liver cancer. As a show that he isn’t backing down, We’re All in This Together is a balls to the wall blues album that leaves nothing on the table. The album also features other amazing blues musicians like Eric Gales, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, Warren Haynes, Joe Bonamassa and many others. If you want to hear a stand out album from a living blues guitar veteran, look no further. Also, don’t miss Walter Trout on the 5th annual KTBA cruise as Joe Bonamassa welcomes Trout and a boatload of more amazing acts to sail to Grand Cayman!