The Story of Blues Label Alligator Records & Conversation with Buddy Guy

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This week, Jim and Greg explore the history and legacy of the almost 50-year-old Chicago blues label, Alligator Records, with its founder Bruce Iglauer. They’ll talk to him about his new book Bitten By the Blues: The Alligator Records Story and discuss some of the landmark artists who came through, from Koko Taylor to Albert Collins. Jim and Greg will also revisit an interview they did with Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy.

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Alligator Records’ Bruce Iglauer

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Alligator Records is a Chicago blues label that’s been around for almost 50 years. While not necessarily a household name, Alligator Records has captured some of the most potent artists Chicago has offered since 1970, and has always championed a raw and unvarnished sound - not unlike punk in that way.

In 1970, 23-year-old Bruce Iglauer came to Chicago to work for the jazz and blues label Delmark Records, but quickly decided to stake out on his own. At a time when the blues was waning in popularity and prominence, Iglauer recognized that there was an audience of young rock fans who were interested in expanding their musical tastes. So, this young white guy assembles a roster of some of the most iconic artists of the genre, people like Albert Collins and Koko Taylor, and gets people excited about the music again. In his recent book Bitten By the Blues: The Alligator Records Story, Bruce Iglauer, along with co-writer Patrick A. Roberts, tells the story of the evolution of Alligator, its landmark artists and its importance in music history.

Buddy Guy

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Blues legend and fellow Chicagoan Buddy Guy visited the show back in 2007.

One thing that makes Buddy Guy’s music so unique is his sense of melody. He explains how he will listen to spiritual and gospel music on the radio as inspiration. As Greg states: he’s trying to imitate the voices. He learned this from B.B. King. Another musician who inspired Buddy was Guitar Slim. Before seeing Slim play, Buddy didn’t know how far he could go with a strat. Now he is known for his violent, high-energy style. This style wasn’t appreciated by his former label Chess Records, but was adored and emulated by British blues fans like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Andy Summers. This week, we revisit the 2007 interview and are also treated to a rare, acoustic performance from Guy and his bandmember at the time, Rick Hall. Listen to the whole interview, featuring two aditional songs, here.

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