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

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


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


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.

Featured Songs

  1. Koko Taylor, I'm A Woman, The Earthshaker, Alligator, 1978
  2. Albert Collins, Honey Hush! (Talking Woman Blues), Ice Pickin', Alligator, 1978
  3. Mississippi Fred McDowell, You Got to Move, You Gotta Move, Arhoolie, 1965
  4. Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers, Walking the Ceiling, Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers, Alligator, 1971
  5. Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers, Give Me Back My Wig, Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers, Alligator, 1971
  6. Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers, Phillips' Theme, Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers, Alligator, 1971
  7. B.B. King, The Thrill Is Gone, Completely Well, Alligator, 1969
  8. Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers, Wild About You Baby, Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers, Alligator, 1971
  9. Koko Taylor, Wang Dang Doodle, Wang Dang Doodle (Single), Chess, 1966
  10. Koko Taylor, That's Why I'm Crying, I Got What It Takes, Alligator, 1975
  11. Koko Taylor, I Got What It Takes, I Got What It Takes, Alligator, 1975
  12. Albert Collins, I Ain't Drunk, Cold Snap, Alligator, 1986
  13. Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland, Robert Cray, The Moon Is Full, Showdown!, Alligator, 1985
  14. Toronzo Cannon, Walk It Off, The Chicago Way, Alligator, 2016
  15. Toronzo Cannon, Bad Contract, The Chicago Way, Alligator, 2016
  16. Shemekia Copeland, Would You Take My Blood, America's Child, Alligator, 2018
  17. Shemekia Copeland, Ain't Got Time For Hate, America's Child, Alligator, 2018
  18. A.C. Reed, She's Fine (feat. Bonnie Raitt), I'm In the Wrong Business!, Alligator, 1987
  19. Buddy Guy, Baby Please Don't Leave Me, Sweet Tea, Silvertone, 2001
  20. B.B. King, Don't Answer the Door, Don't Answer The Door (single), ABC, 1966
  21. Buddy Guy, Good Morning Schoolgirl, Hoodoo Blues Man (Live On Sound Opinions), Delmark, 2007
  22. Cream, Strange Brew, Strange Brew (single), Reaction, 1967
  23. Buddy Guy, First Time I Met The Blues, I Got My Eyes On You (single), Chess, 1960
  24. Shawnna, Can't Break Me (feat. Buddy Guy), Block Music, Disturbing Tha Peace, 2006
  25. Buddy Guy, I've Got Dreams to Remember, Bring 'Em In (Live On Sound Opinions), Silvertone, 2007
  26. The Stooges, Down on the Street, Fun House, Elektra, 1970
  27. Fats Domino, I've Been Calling, What A Party, Imperial, 1961
  28. Quintron & Miss Pussycat, Swamp Buggy Badass, Swamp Tech, Tigerbeat6, 2005
  29. The Troggs, Wild Thing, Wild Thing (single), Fontana, 1966
  30. The Cure, Killing an Arab, Killing an Arab (single), Small Wonder, 1978
  31. Peter Gabriel, Mercy Street, So, Geffen, 1986