Best Blues Albums of All Time – Chronological

I have collected over a dozen lists of ‘best blues albums’ that I found in books, magazines and websites and compiled them into a single meta-list.  This list is organized in chronological order, based on the earliest recording on the album. For a list organized by rank, that is, with the albums on the most lists at the time, go here.

NOTE: Many older blues albums are compilations.  Much of the material from the artist is available on multiple compilation albums. For example, all the music on Robert Johnson’s King of the Delta Blues is also available on Robert Johnson’s The Complete Recordings.

Bessie SmithThe Essential Bessie Smith (rec. 1923-1933) (on 3 lists)
Bessie SmithThe Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (rec. 1923-1924) (on 2 lists)
Bessie SmithThe Collection (rec. 1923-1933) (on 2 lists)
Ma RaineyMa Rainey’s Black Bottom (rec. 1924-1928) (on 3 lists)
Blind BlakeRagtime Guitar’s Foremost Fingerpicker (rec. 1926-1929) (on 4 lists)
Blind Lemon JeffersonKing of the Country Blues (rec. 1926-1929) (on 3 lists)
Various ArtistsThe Roots of Robert Johnson (rec. 1926-1936) (on 2 lists)
Various ArtistsMasters of the Delta Blues: The Friends of Charlie Patton (rec. 1926-1936) (on 2 lists)
Blind Willie JohnsonThe Complete Blind Willie Johnson (rec. 1927-1934) (on 4 lists)
Cannon’s Jug StompersThe Best of Cannon’s Jug Stompers (rec. 1927-1930) (on 2 lists)
Lonnie JohnsonSteppin’ on the Blues (rec. 1927-1932) (on 2 lists)
Blind Willie JohnsonPraise God I’m Satisfied (rec. 1927-1934) (on 2 lists)
Mississippi John HurtAvalon Blues: Complete 1928 Recordings (rec. 1928) (on 5 lists)
Tommy JohnsonComplete Recorded Works in Chronological Order (1928-1929) (on 2 lists)
Tampa RedThe Guitar Wizard (rec. 1928-1934) (on 2 lists)
Scrapper BlackwellThe Virtuoso Guitar of Scrapper Blackwell (rec. 1928-1935) (on 2 lists)
Blind Willie McTellThe Definitive Blind Willie McTell (rec. 1929-1933) (on 4 lists)
Memphis MinnieBumble Bee: The Essential Recordings of Memphis Minnie (rec. 1929-1941) (on 4 lists)
Charley PattonFounder of the Delta Blues (rec. 1929-1934) (on 2 lists)
Charley PattonComplete Recordings 1929-1934 (rec. 1929-1934) (on 2 lists)

Kokomo Arnold
Complete Recorded Works Vol. 1 (1930-1935) (rec. 1930-1935) (on 2 lists)
Skip JamesThe Complete Early Recordings of Skip James – 1930 (rec. 1931) (on 5 lists)
Lead BellyKing of the 12-String Guitar (rec. 1935) (on 3 lists)
Robert JohnsonKing of the Delta Blues (rec. 1936-1937) (on 7 lists)
Robert JohnsonThe Complete Recordings (rec. 1936-1937) (on 4 lists)
Bukka WhiteThe Complete Bukka White (rec. 1937, 1940) (on 3 lists)
John Lee “Sonny Boy” WilliamsonSonny Boy Williamson: The Bluebird Recordings (rec. 1937-1938) (on 2 lists)

Son House
Delta Blues: The Original Library of Congress Sessions from Field Recordings 1941-1942 (rec. 1941-1942) (on 2 lists)
Lead BellyWhere Did You Sleep Last Night: Lead Belly Legacy, Vol. 1 (rec. 1941-1947) (on 2 lists)
Big Maceo MerriweatherThe Best of Big Maceo: The King of Chicago Blues Piano (rec. 1941-1947) (on 2 lists)
Lightnin’ HopkinsThe Gold Star Sessions (rec. 1946-1949) (on 2 lists)
Lightnin’ HopkinsMojo Hand: The Lightnin’ Hopkins Anthology (rec. 1946-1974) (on 2 lists)
Muddy Waters The Chess Box (rec. 1947-1972) (on 2 lists)
John Lee HookerThe Legendary Modern Recordings 1948-1954 (rec. 1948-1954) (on 4 lists)
John Lee HookerThe Ultimate Collection 1948-1990 (rec. 1948-1990) (on 3 lists)
Muddy WatersThe Best of Muddy Waters (Chess, rec. 1948-1954) (on 3 lists)
John Lee HookerAlternative Boogie: Early Studio Recordings 1948–1952 (rec. 1948-1952) (on 2 lists)
Professor LonghairFess: The Professor Longhair Anthology (rec. 1949-1980) (on 2 lists)

T-Bone Walker
The Complete Imperial Recordings: 1950-1954 (rec. 1950-1954) (on 4 lists)
Jimmy RogersChicago Bound (rec. 1950-1959) (on 3 lists)
Percy MayfieldMemory Pain (rec. 1950-1955) (on 2 lists)
Willie DixonThe Chess Box (rec. 1950-1970) (on 2 lists)
Howlin’ WolfMoanin’ in the Moonlight (rec. 1951-1959) (on 8 lists)
Elmore JamesThe Sky Is Crying: The History of Elmore James (rec. 1951-1961) (on 6 lists)
B.B. KingSingin’ the Blues/The Blues (rec. 1951-1958) (on 4 lists)
Sonny Boy Williamson (II) – King Biscuit Time (rec. 1951-1965) (on 3 lists)
Howlin’ WolfThe Chess Box (rec. 1951-1953) (on 2 lists)
J.B. LenoirHis J.O.B. Recordings (rec. 1951-1954) (on 2 lists)
Howlin’ WolfHis Best: Chess 50th Anniversary Collection (rec. 1951-1964) (on 2 lists)
Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ BrownThe Original Peacock Recordings (rec. 1952-1959) (on 6 lists)
Little WalterHis Best: Chess 50th Anniversary Collection (rec. 1952-1963) (on 5 lists)
Big MaybelleThe Complete Okeh Sessions, 1952-1955 (rec. 1952-1955) (on 2 lists)
Big Mama ThorntonHound Dog/The Peacock Recordings (rec. 1952-1957) (on 2 lists)
Little WalterThe Essential Little Walter (rec. 1952-1963) (on 2 lists)
Elmore JamesLet’s Cut It: The Very Best of Elmore James (rec. 1952-1956) (on 2 lists)
Bobby “Blue” BlandI Pity the Fool: The Duke Recordings, Vol. 1 (rec. 1952-1960) (on 2 lists)
Guitar SlimSufferin’ Mind (rec. 1953-1955) (on 5 lists)
Guitar SlimThe Things That I Used To Do (rec. 1953-1956) (on 2 lists)
Jimmy ReedBig Boss Man: The Best of Jimmy Reed (rec. 1953-1963) (on 2 lists)
Lightnin’ HopkinsThe Herald Recordings 1954 (rec. 1954) (on 3 lists)
Jimmy ReedJimmy Reed at Carnegie Hall (rec. 1954-1961) (on 2 lists)
Albert KingThe Ultimate Collection (rec. 1954-1984) (on 2 lists)
T-Bone WalkerT-Bone Blues (rec. 1955-1957) (on 6 lists)
Sonny Boy Williamson (II)Down and Out Blues (rec. 1955-1958) (on 3 lists)
Sonny Boy Williamson (II)His Best (Chess, rec. 1955-1964) (on 3 lists)
Lightnin’ SlimRooster Blues (rec. 1955-1960) (on 2 lists)
Sonny Boy Williamson (II)The Essential Sonny Boy Williamson (rec. 1955-1963) (on 2 lists)
Bo DiddleyHis Best (Chess/MCA, rec. 1955-1966) (on 2 lists)
Otis RushThe Classic Cobra Recordings: 1956-1958 (rec. 1956-1958) (on 4 lists)
Big Joe TurnerThe Boss of the Blues (1956) (on 3 lists)
Big Bill BroonzyTrouble In Mind (rec. 1956-1957) (on 2 lists)
Bobby “Blue” BlandTwo Steps from the Blues (rec. 1956-1960) (on 2 lists)
Freddie KingHide Away: The Best of Freddie King (rec. 1956-1970) (on 2 lists)
Sonny Boy Williamson (II)The Real Folk Blues/More Real Folk Blues (rec. 1957, 1960-1964) (on 3 lists)
The Reverend Gary DavisPure Religion & Bad Company (1957) (on 2 lists)
Billie HolidaySongs For Distingué Lovers (1957) (on 2 lists)
Buddy GuyThe Very Best of Buddy Guy (Rhino, rec. 1957-1981) (on 2 lists)
Champion Jack DupreeBlues from the Gutter (1958) (on 3 lists)
Howlin’ WolfHowlin’ Wolf (rec. 1959-1962) (on 7 lists)
Bobby “Blue” BlandThe Voice: Duke Recordings 1959-69 (rec. 1959-1969) (on 3 lists)
Memphis SlimAt the Gate of Horn (1959) (on 2 lists)
Lightnin’ HopkinsLightnin’ Hopkins (1959) (on 2 lists)

Muddy WatersAt Newport 1960 (rec. 1960) (on 6 lists)
Elmore JamesBlues After Hours (1960) (on 2 lists)
Otis SpannOtis Spann is the Blues (1960) (on 2 lists)
Etta James At Last! (rec. 1960) (on 2 lists)
Koko TaylorWhat It Takes/The Chess Years (rec. 1960-1971) (on 2 lists)
Scrapper BlackwellMr. Scrapper’s Blues (1961) (on 2 lists)
Freddie KingJust Pickin’ (rec. 1961, 1965) (on 2 lists)
Little MiltonGreatest Hits (MCA-Chess, rec. 1962-1983) (on 4 lists)
The Rolling StonesThe Rolling Stones (1964) (on 3 lists)
Robert NighthawkLive on Maxwell Street (1964) (on 2 lists)
Robert Nighthawk & Houston StackhouseMasters of Modern Blues (rec. 1964, 1967) (on 2 lists)
Junior WellsHoodoo Man Blues (1965) (on 10 lists)
B.B. KingLive at the Regal (1965) (on 7 lists)
The Paul Butterfield Blues BandThe Paul Butterfield Blues Band (1965) (on 7 lists)
Son HouseFather of the Delta Blues: The Complete 1965 Recordings (1965) (on 6 lists)
Big Mama ThorntonBall N’ Chain (Arhoolie, rec. 1965-1968) (on 3 lists)
Koko TaylorKoko Taylor (rec. 1965-1969) (on 2 lists)
Albert KingBorn Under a Bad Sign (rec. 1966-1967) (on 8 lists)
John MayallBluesbreakers with Eric Clapton (1966) (on 6 lists)
Albert KingKing of the Blues Guitar (rec. 1966-1968) (on 5 lists)
Skip JamesToday! (1966) (on 4 lists)
B.B. KingBlues Is King (1966) (on 4 lists)
Paul Butterfield Blues BandEast-West (1966) (on 3 lists)
Various ArtistsChicago/The Blues Today/Vol. 1-3 (1966) (on 2 lists)
Magic SamWest Side Soul (1967) (on 9 lists)
Charlie MusselwhiteStand Back! Here Comes Charlie Musselwhite’s South Side Blues Band (1967) (on 5 lists)
Johnny WinterProgressive Blues Experiment (1967) (on 2 lists)
John MayallCrusade (1967) (on 2 lists)
Magic SamBlack Magic (1968) (on 3 lists)
Canned HeatBoogie With Canned Heat (1968) (on 2 lists)
Taj MahalTaj Mahal (1968) (on 2 lists)
Skip JamesDevil Got My Woman (1968) (on 2 lists)
Albert KingLive Wire/Blues Power (1968) (on 2 lists)
B.B. KingHis Definitive Greatest Hits (Universal TV, rec. c. 1968-1989) (on 2 lists)
Mississippi Fred McDowellI Do Not Play No Rock and Roll (1969) (on 3 lists)
Eddie “Cleanhead” VinsonOld Kidney Stew Is Fine (1969) (on 2 lists)
Junior WellsSouthside Blues Jam (rec. 1969-1970) (on 2 lists)

Buddy GuyI Was Walking Through the Woods (1970) (on 3 lists)
Willie DixonI Am the Blues (1970) (on 2 lists)
B.B. KingIndianola Mississippi Seeds (1970) (on 2 lists)
B.B. KingLive at Cook County Jail (rec. 1970) (on 2 lists)
John Lee Hooker & Canned HeatHooker & Heat (1970) (on 2 lists)
Hound Dog TaylorHound Dog Taylor & the Houserockers (1971) (on 5 lists)
Otis RushRight Place, Wrong Time (1971) (on 3 lists)
James Cotton100% Cotton (1974) (on 2 lists)
Hound Dog TaylorBeware of the Dog (1974) (on 2 lists)
Rory GallagherIrish Tour ’74 (1974) (on 2 lists)
Koko TaylorI Got What It Takes (1975) (on 2 lists)
Muddy WatersHard Again (1977) (on 4 lists)
Albert CollinsIce Pickin’ (1978) (on 6 lists)
Professor LonghairCrawfish Fiesta (1979) (on 2 lists)

Buddy GuyStone Crazy (1981) (on 3 lists)
Stevie Ray VaughanTexas Flood (1982) (on 6 lists)
Albert Collins, Robert Cray & Johnny CopelandShowdown (1985) (on 5 lists)
Robert CrayStrong Persuader (1986) (on 5 lists)
Johnny CopelandBringing It All Back Home (1985) (on 2 lists)
Albert CollinsCold Snap (1986) (on 2 lists)
Johnny Winter3rd Degree (1986) (on 2 lists)
John Lee HookerThe Healer (1989) (on 2 lists)

Gary MooreStill Got The Blues (1990) (on 2 lists)
R.L. BurnsideToo Bad Jim (1992) (on 4 lists)
Various ArtistsDeep Blues: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1992) (on 3 lists)
Junior KimbroughAll Night Long (1992) (on 2 lists)
Junior Kimbrough Sad Days, Lonely Nights (1993) (on 2 lists)
Eric ClaptonFrom The Cradle (1994) (on 3 lists)
Alvin Youngblood HartTerritory (1998) (on 2 lists)
Corey HarrisGreens from the Garden (1999) (on 2 lists)

R.L. BurnsideWish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down (2000) (on 2 lists)