Various Artists

The Alligator Records 25th Anniversary Collection

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This is a specially priced, two-CDs-for-the-price-of-one photo-cube set, loaded with great stuff from Charlie Musselwhite, Koko Taylor, Lonnie Brooks, Johnny Winter, Billy Boy Arnold, Lonnie Mack, and a host of others who have trotted their wares on the label over the years. Besides giving the novice one great introduction to the label (as the music runs from traditional to modern), the big bonus here is a treasure trove of previously unissued tracks from Roy Buchanan (a chaotic version of Link Wray's "Jack the Ripper"); Floyd Dixon (a recut of his Blues Brothers-approved hit "Hey Bartender"); Albert Collins and Johnny Copeland in a marvelous outtake from the Showdown! album ("Something to Remember You By"); and the band that started it all, Hound Dog Taylor & the Houserockers, with a crazed version of Elmore James' "Look on Yonder's Wall," as sloppy as it is cool. Very good stuff and at these prices, a bargain and then some.

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