By Brent Thompson
Bitten by the Blues: The Alligator Records Story
Bruce Iglauer & Patrick A. Roberts
The University of Chicago Press
For a young Bruce Iglauer, Chicago was heaven – and a haven – for a blues fan seeking the real thing. The city’s South Side clubs rang out with sounds of the genre’s true legends. Taking his passion to the next level, Iglauer produced and distributed Hound Dog Taylor’s debut album and Alligator Records was born. Since then, the label has released recordings by Otis Rush, Koko Taylor, Albert Collins, Johnny Winter and Son Seals among countless others. In Bitten by the Blues, Iglauer – with the help of Patrick Roberts – recalls the sessions and stories that turned his record label into a national treasure. Along the way, we learn about Chicago blues in general and Alligtator’s place in its fertile scene. And though he likely wouldn’t take credit for it, Iglauer’s label played a vital role in keeping a sometimes less-than-commercial – yet distinctly American – art form relevant.
In addition to being an enjoyable read for blues and Chicago enthusiasts, Bitten by the Blues reminds us that one’s passion can become one’s profession. Genuine Houserockin’ Music indeed.