Dear Friends,

I just had the pleasure of spending five days in the studio with Tinsley Ellis, mixing his upcoming new album Moment Of Truth. Tinsley is proudly a blues-rocker, which means that some LB readers may think his music is not to their taste. I’d recommend that the purists among you take a listen when the CD comes out at the end of June (there will be two tracks streaming on our jukebox at plus a free download on our Goodies page). Tinsley rocks hard, but his music isn’t about playing as many loud and fast notes as possible. It’s all about telling a story, moving your emotions, and making a melodic and rhythmic statement, just like the best of pure blues guitar. On Moment Of Truth, Tinsley delivers his rawest studio record yet, and the deepest lyrically. He sings of the good old blues topics of love, lust and loss. But the songs also touch on subjects like substance abuse and recovery from it, friendship, self-control, freedom and faith. I hope you’ll give it a listen. I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised.

Speaking of, if you haven’t visited our web site recently, I urge you to come back again. We’ve added a lot of new items in the store, including more videos and books. And there are more songs available for free streaming than ever, plus free downloads from Koko Taylor’s Old School, The Holmes Brothers’ State Of Grace and JJ Grey & Mofro’s Country Ghetto. Speaking of downloads, if you have moved into the world of buying downloads instead of owning CDs (which I suspect only a few blues fans have done), the Alligator catalog is available for purchase or by subscription from almost all the major legal downloaders, including Itunes, Rhapsody, Napster, Zune, Sony Connect, Puretracks, FNAC and more. If you still prefer CDs, the entire Alligator catalog is always for sale at our site, and shipping is free in the U.S.A. Plus, if you are not an online purchaser, you can phone your order to Eli or Bill during Central Time business hours at 1-800-344-5609 or 1-773-274-7538.

Right now, there are three brand new sampler CDs you can buy from our site or from any good record store (and if they don’t have these in stock, then they just aren’t a good store). They’re new additions to our Crucial Blues series—-More Crucial Guitar Blues, Crucial Rockin’ Blues and Crucial Acoustic Blues. For a mere $7.98 per disc, you can hear some of the finest tracks from a dozen different Alligator artists. You’ll find an ad elsewhere in this issue listing each album and artist. These discs represent the perfect introduction to Alligator, or a great gift (at a great price) for a friend you’re trying to turn on to the blues. We opened More Crucial Blues Guitar with a track by the great Luther Allison, reminding me that this year marks the tenth anniversary of his sad, untimely death from cancer. It’s hard to imagine how the blues world might have been different if this charismatic artist were still with us, but losing him was certainly a terrible blow to all of us who love the blues.

Now, more about the 1986 recording of Roy Buchanan’s second Alligator album, Dancing On The Edge, with special vocal guest Delbert McClinton, the king of the Texas roadhouses. We had already decided to feature a new version of the Bo Diddley/Willie Dixon classic You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover (which we later released as a 12-inch vinyl radio single, pretty unusual for Alligator). It was Delbert who had the idea of cutting an obscure (to me) Aretha Franklin soul ballad called Baby, Baby, Baby. We worked up the arrangement in rehearsal, and cut it in one take with an achingly bluesy Roy solo. Delbert sang it live, top to bottom, delivering a stunning performance. After the one take, Delbert, discouraged, came into the control room and said, “Well, I guess I just can’t sing that song.” Then he learned from the playback what we already knew—he had delivered a chillingly soulful performance, full of emotion and simply perfect. It’s one of the all-time great vocal/guitar ballad performances on Alligator.

More next time,

Bruce Iglauer