Is blues music becoming a mainstream phenomenon? Think about it for a moment...over the past year, albums from such "pop star" blues artists as Hugh Laurie and the Wynton Marsalis/Eric Clapton collaboration have spent an inordinate amount of time on the charts. Ditto for the blues chart for the week ending November 24, 2012 which, you'll find, is dominated by three popular blues artists, which fill up six of the ten chart positions.
While guitarist Gary Clark, Jr. is enjoying a recently-minted popularity, Joe Bonamassa is a longtime chart hog. With the re-entry of the Tedeschi Trucks Band's Revelator to the chart, the family band also has two albums on the chart. Throw in Bonnie Raitt and, well, one could argue that Robert Cray is the only traditional blues artist in the top ten...not that it's necessarily a bad thing. A rising tide and all that, and more fans coming to the blues will be good for the genre altogether, and maybe during 2013 we'll see artists like Candye Kane, Duke Robillard, and Omar & the Howlers, to name but three personal faves, sitting pretty on the charts!
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the charm of these funky lil' "various artists" compilations which pop up on the chart from time to time, and this week we have a real blast from the past. It appears, from the best information that I have available, that the House of Blues-branded Essential Blues compilation - originally released in 1995 - has slipped into the Top Ten in the number eight spot. Here's the rub, however...the album seems to be out of print. Amazon.com has some old copies available from outside vendors, but otherwise, nada. Any ideas, readers, why this ghost blues set would show back up after a decade and a half? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
Here are this week's Billboard Top Ten blues albums, ranked by sales:
10. Tedeschi Trucks Band - Revelator (Sony Masterworks)
9. Robert Cray - Nothin But Love (Provogue Records)
8. Various Artists - Essential Blues (House of Blues)
7. Tedeschi Trucks Band - Everybody's Talkin' (Sony Masterworks)
6. Joe Bonamassa - Driving Towards The Daylight (J&R Adventures)
5. Gary Clark, Jr. - The Bright Lights EP (Warner Brothers)
4. Various Artists - When Chicago Got The Blues (Hear Music)
3. Joe Bonamassa - Beacon Theater: Live From New York (J&R Adventures)
2. Bonnie Raitt - Slipstream (Redwing Records)
1. Gary Clark, Jr. - Blak and Blu (Warner Brothers)
New Releases: Al Miller's In Between Time (Delmark Records); Eric Clapton's Slowhand [35th Anniversary Deluxe Edition] (Polydor/Universal)
Photo of Al Miller's In Between Time courtesy Delmark Records