Various Artists

Hound Dog Taylor: A Tribute

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In many respects, you could call Hound Dog Taylor a cult artist. Respected by bluesmen and critics alike, he built a small, devoted following across America simply by constently touring. There were no hits and very few covers of hs songs, but his rowdy concerts and incendiary records on Alligator convinced any who heard him. In the process, he put Alligator Records on the blues map, so it only makes sense that the label return the favor with Hound Dog Taylor: A Tribute, one of the few blues tributes that really works. Taylor's wild, careening slide guitar became one of more influential sounds in contemporary blues, as evidenced by this quality-packed record. Out of the 14 tracks, only George Thorogood's thuggish, sluggish "I Just Can't Make It" falls flat, but the quality of the remaining cuts is so high that it's forgivable. Luther Allison's "Give Me Back My Wig" rocks, Gov't Mule's "Gonna Send You Back to Georgia" is tough, Vernon Reid and Alvin Youngblood Hart do a nice acoutic reading of "It's Alright," Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin turns "See Me in the Evening" into an appealing, straightforward blues-rocker and Cub Koda tears through "Take Five" with the help of Hound Dog's backing band, the Houserockers. Moments like these are what elevates this tribute album above the average.

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