Archive for December 15th, 2011


TOP BLUES ALBUMS OF 2011-JOHN EMMS-listen to john’s hip blues, roots, rock radio show


BLUES MUSIC has evolved. That is a good thing for fans and musicians. If we are being honest, it’s hard to improve on Muddy Waters,  Etta James, Howling Wolf, Stevie Ray Vaughan and 10 other icons I could name.  Yet, blues music has always included Soul, R & B, swing, blues rock, delta, electric blues, jazz and great vocalists and that is how you should use this list .

My introduction to blues music was from the first Rolling Stones albums. From there I went crazy for B.B. King, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, Stevie Ray Vaughan etc and even had the chance to interview some of my blues greats.

This year’s best blues albums have many variations on the blues. These albums are all great and are in no particular order. This list is compliled from what the music labels sent and which I continue to play on my show. I have not heard every blues recording this year so be patient. Just for the record Joe Bonamassa appears twice on the list.

Warren Haynes-Man in Motion-This is Haynes best vocal album. I have included this in my blues section because of the R & B and soul influence. People are in for a real treat. Haynes steps up and delivers original soul music in the vein of Otis Redding.  Most fans have waited for Haynes to make this type of album. It’s here,  in all it’s glory. Not a bad song, and a great mix. A must have.

Beth Hart/Joe Bonamassa-Don’t Explain. For the listener and I suspect both Hart and Bonamassa, this album is always coming from the right place. The bottom of your gut, the breath from your lungs and the dynamics of a great band. Granted some of the songs like I’d Rather Go Blind (which they really nail) have been covered many times but then there is the gospel of Something’s Got A Hold On Me,  a superb cover of Delaney and Bonnie’s Well, Well or the funky hard riffage cover of  Bill Wither’s soulful track For My Friend.

The title track is I believe the most soulful cover of any song I have heard in the last 2 or 3 years. Stunning vocal by Hart, gorgeous string arrangement and Bonamassa’s guitar work is as organic as any guitarist on the planet. Killer CD. Bravo Beth and Joe


Maria Muldaur- Steady Love-From the moment I opened this cd and hit play I was knocked out by the confidence of Muldaur’s vocals, the song arrangements, and the crisp mix. Muldaur sings like she was 20 years younger than her 68 years but with the chops of experience. You have to absolutley have this as part of your collection of albums.

Gregg Allman-Low Country Blues-Some people were surprised at how vintage this record sounded. So was I. T-Bone Burnett produces but in the end it’s  the sound of Allmans’ voice with some great players. An iconic bluesman in every way. Get It

Ana Popovic- Unconditional-This is the best I have heard Popovic sing on any album. It’s her most focused set of songs and her guitar work has evolved to a level of excellence which is scary. Wow!

Joe Bonamassa-Dust Bowl-Look, this is my chance to say Rolling Stone Magazine got it WRONG when Bonamassa was not named in the top 100 guitarists poll. Okay. Dust Bowl is Bonamassa’s most accessible album. All styles, killer cameos by Glenn Hughes, John Hiatt and Vince Gill. Bonamassa and producer/mixer Kevin Shirley keep things cohesive despite the fact the album was recorded in various locations.

MonkeyJunk-To Behold- I encourage blues fans from around the world to check out how cool this release is. It’s all about the groove and believe me Steve Marriner, Tony D and Matt Sobb know groove. Very nice

Roy Rogers/Ray Manzerek-Translucent Blues-I have literally had this stuck in my vehicle since the day the label sent it overI never would have dreamed of these two musicians teaming up and knocking me out. Not a bad song, and most of the disc is hard driving blues that simply kicks butt.

Savoy Brown-Major comeback for Kim Simmonds with the help of a great pair of  lungs courtesy of Joe Whiting. You will be very surprised.

Tedeshi-Trucks Band-Revelator-This reminds me so much of Delaney and Bonnie’s output. Again, this is music made for all the right reasons. It grows slow on ya’ and then reveals it’s true richness. Nice.

Steve Miller Band-Let Your Hair Down-As last years Bingo Cd proved to classic rock fans Miller’s heart is bang on in the blues. Always has been. Superbly executed, pristine production, killer covers and oh man Miller can wail that ol’ guitar.

Kenny Blues Boss Wayne-An Old Rock on a Roll. Produced like fine wine from the one and only Duke Robillard this is going to surprise a ton of people all over. I love to call Wayne’s music Fats Domino meets Johnny Johnson via the way of the blues. Great groove, plays the piano and the band fits in like a warm comforter blanket. Your gonna love it, take my word!

I know I have left a few out.



December 2011