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Guitar World's 10 Essential Blues Guitar Albums

This list of Guitar World's 10 essential blues albums is part of a much larger feature — Guitar World's 100 Essential Guitar Albums — all of which you'll be seeing in the weeks ahead!

For the time being, we'll start you off with these 10 masterpieces from guys named King, Vaughan, Hooker and, well, Guy!

Robert Johnson - King of the Delta Blues Singers (1998) While the origins of the blues stretch back into the forgotten mists of time, our awareness of the music coincides with the advent of sound recording in the early part of the 20th century. Among the blues voices that emerge from those scratchy 78rpm discs, one stands out strong - a plaintive, haunted voice accompanied by agile, evocative guitar patterns. Robert Johnson is the archetypal blues man of the Mississippi Delta. His music profoundly influenced everyone from Son House to Muddy Waters to Eric Clapton to the Rolling Stones. The 12-bar poetry of his lyrics helped codify the subject matter of the blues: whiskey and women, Satan and God, the pleasures of life that somehow also turn out to be its pains. There's a legend that Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil in return for his musical prowess. But all myths that equate the blues with demonic forces really stem from a sense of awe at this ancient, earthy rhythm that can grant us the power to meet bad times and good with poise and life-affirming vigor.

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In a career that spans five decades, Alan di Perna has written for pretty much every magazine in the world with the word “guitar” in its title, as well as other prestigious outlets such as Rolling Stone, Billboard, Creem, Player, Classic Rock, Musician, Future Music, Keyboard, grammy.com and reverb.com. He is author of Guitar Masters: Intimate Portraits, Green Day: The Ultimate Unauthorized History and co-author of Play It Loud: An Epic History of the Sound Style and Revolution of the Electric Guitar. The latter became the inspiration for the Metropolitan Museum of Art/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibition “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll.” As a professional guitarist/keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist, Alan has worked with recording artists Brianna Lea Pruett, Fawn Wood, Brenda McMorrow, Sat Kartar and Shox Lumania.