Joe Bonamassa lists and explains his essential blues (rock) albums to Guitar World—ones he considers seminal to his career and music-making. 


Truth, 1968

“This album is the road atlas that mapped out the future for English blues and rock. It also set the standard for blues rock tone and style, and without it a lot of bands probably would have sounded very different. Kudos to engineer Ken Scott and late drummer Mickey Waller for being the unsung secret weapons behind this pivotal album.”


Tres Hombres, 1973

“It opens with ‘Waiting for the Bus’ and ‘Jesus Just Left Chicago,’ and it’s the best one-two punch I’ve ever heard. Those two songs alone are so worth the price of admission that you almost forget there’s a brilliant album after them. It’s the sound of Texas personified.”


Electric Mud, 1968

“Anything the blues purists pan immediately generally suits me just fine. This album is no exception. This record was Marshall Chess’ labor of love. American critics panned it, but the British loved it. [Guitarist] Pete Cosey’s playing is innovative and experimental.”


Stand Up, 1969

“This was Tull’s first record after Mick Abrahams departed. He was a fantastic guitarist check out Blodwyn Pig’s ‘See My Way’ from [1970’s] Getting to This. Martin Barre took over from him, and he was amazing. It showed the world that blues is a blank canvas that you can paint however you wish. Stand Up is titanic in its delivery and its ingenuity.”


Tons of Sobs, 1969

“This is the record that changed my life. If it weren’t for Free’s Paul Kossoff, I would be probably playing like Donovan or Trini Lopez. This solidified my commitment to English blues. Clapton planted the seed, and Kossoff nurtured my growth.”


Led Zeppelin, 1969

“‘How Many More Times,’ ‘You Shook Me,’ ‘I Can’t Quit You.’ Enough said. This album is superb in every way. I defy you to make a better-sounding album right now with all the computer gadgets, or even on real analog equipment. You won’t, and you can’t.”


Electric Ladyland, 1968

“Jimi plays the blues on ‘Voodoo Chile’ with such a passion that it sends shivers down my spine. This is an album to listen to when you’re feeling good about your playing. It will take you down a peg.”


Irish Tour, 1974

“A blue-collar guy from Cork, Ireland, plugs a beat-up Stratocaster into anything that will make a thud and just nails it. This record is absolutely a stunner—the definition of passion on a blues rock stage.”


At Fillmore East, 1971

“It captures the group’s original lineup at its absolute best. Iconic Allmans tracks and blues rock masterpieces abound, and the boys from Macon, Georgia, show you how it’s done. They’re like a train you get onboard, or you get out of the way. There’s no in-between.”


Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton, 1966

“It takes a lot of heavy lifting and homework to inspire a few jaded guitarists such as myself. It takes a record like this one to inspire an entire generation of blues guitarists. It’s a classic.”

Check out other essential albums picks from different guitar greats – Alan Paul from Low Down and Dirty.

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