This list wouldn't be complete without Texas bluesman Aaron "T-Bone" Walker making an appearance. This collection of blues classics recorded between 1955 and '57 includes his hits "T-Bone Shuffle," "Mean Old World" and, of course, "They Call It Stormy Monday," a favorite of the Allman Brothers Band, Jethro Tull and Eric Clapton. T-Bone was a pioneer of electric blues, and this compilation demonstrates his ability to play slow, after-hours tones and blazing licks that inspired millions of young guitarslingers who still emulate his style.
6. Lightnin' Hopkins - The Herald Sessions (2001, remastered)
"Nothin' But the Blues," "Lightnin's Boogie" and "Lightnin's Special" are more strikes than many blues fans can handle. Like many of his blues brothers, Lightnin' Hopkins didn't start recording until his 40s. When he was 8 years old, Lightnin' met Blind Lemon Jefferson at a church picnic and later claimed he felt the blues when he met the blues legend. This compilation offers Lightnin' thundering through a distorted amp as his fingers dance through repetitive licks sure to take your breath away.
5. Albert Collins - Ice Pickin' (1978)
The "Master of the Telecaster" pushes toward the front of the pack with this album that features "icy echo, shattering, ringing, sustained high notes, ultra-percussive right hand attack" and heart attacks for blues enthusiasts who place the needle to this vinyl for the first time. Albert Collins was an unknown before this album was released. His piercing tone and bent notes that he could sustain for hours put him at the forefront of imitators everywhere. He literally choked his guitar to create this heavenly music.
4. Blind Lemon Jefferson - Black Snake Moan (2004, remastered)
The king of country blues, Blind Lemon Jefferson is a Texas mystery. Rumored to be the son of sharecroppers, Blind Lemon was a legend among local musicians in Deep Ellum, where he later met Lead Belly, another legendary bluesman, and taught T-Bone Walker how to play blues guitar. Blind Lemon is considered the founder of Texas Blues. Although this compilation isn't his best, the album offers hits "Hangman's Blues," "Matchbox Blues" and "Black Snake Moan," all songs any blues enthusiast should hear before the Grim Reaper's arrival.