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Billy Boy Arnolds Best 10 Blues Albums

Updated on May 17, 2012

Billy Boy Arnold Biography

Billy Boy Arnold was born William Arnold in Chicago on the 16th September 1935, he went on to become one of the best blues harmonica players and singers. He learnt a lot of his harmonica playing from Sonny Boy Williamson and was one of the main inspirations behind the blues revival in England in the early 60's being frequently name checked and covered by bands such as The Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds.

Billy Boy Arnold is still actively recording and touring and playing various blues festivals around the world. His own website, Billy Boy Arnold, is a good source of information about his current activities. Also there is a great Blues related website called Sensible Vulture which has information about Billy Boy Arnold and others. This list is my take on his best work.

1. Billy Boy Sings Sonny Boy

Number one on the list is Billy Boy's latest album, Billy Boy Sings Sonny Boy, which sees Billy Boy Arnold covering many of his mentor, Sonny Boy Williamson's, greatest songs, plus 3 of his own originals in Sonny Boy's style. This tribute is well worth owning as Billy Boy learnt so much from Sonny Boy and obviously not only held him in deep affection but truly understood the great man.

This new CD is a must listen and a must have for all blues lovers.

Billy Boy Sings Sonny Boy available on Amazon

2. Eldorado Cadillac

Eldorado Cadillac was Billy Boys first album for almost 10 years when it was released in 1993 and showed that he had lost none of his "blues", being one of the few original great Chicago Bluesmen still actively plying their trade it showed that he his talent had not diminished over the years but if anything had just got better like a fine wine. This album still sticks closely to his love of Sonny Boy Williamson but also sways close to Muddy Waters territory. "Loving Mother For You" starts out with a beat similar to Muddy's "Mannish Boy" but then breaks off into some quite different.

Eldorado Cadillac available on Amazon

3. Catfish

Catfish is effectively Billy Boy Arnold's version of Howlin' Wolfs London Session album. In typical UK fashion Arnold was greeted and then treated to a recording session backed by a well seasoned band of group of musicians, on this occasion Tony McPhee and the Groundhogs. They are obviously Arnold devotees and complement Arnolds music perfectly and treat him with the respect he so richly deserves.

19 tracks and over 70 minutes of sublime blues.

Catfish available on Amazon

4. More Blues on the South Side

More Blues on the South Side is a1993 re-release of his 3rd album originally released 30 years earlier in 1963 and although it was recorded a long time ago this recording has been cleaned up so that the record is superb to listen to. This album features the vocals and harp of a very young Billy Boy Arnold and some fantastic guitar work by an equally young Mighty Joe Young.

"School Time" is one of the best tracks that Billy Boy recorded and is included here.

More Blues on the South Side available on Amazon

5. Consolidated Mojo

Consolidated Mojo is another recent Billy Boy Arnold release from 2005 on Electro-Fi Records. Covering many of his greatest hits and other contempories, you get the obligatory "I Wish You Would" along with Muddy's "I'm a Man". This showcases Arnolds harp playing and much underrated vocals and shows that almost 50 years on he still is at the top of the game.

Consolidated Mojo available on Amazon

6. Going to Chicago

Going to Chicago is a re-release of Billy Boy Arnold's 4th album originally released in 1966 and shows Arnold further developing his distinctive style. Although a bit hit and miss at times the first 6 songs on this album are fantastic, including a Chuck Berryish "Baby Jane", although the tempo drops on the second half of the album as they dispense with the drummer and the tracks tend to lose their way a little.

Going to Chicago available on Amazon

7. Boogie 'n' Shuffle

Boogie 'n' Shuffle is another of Billy Boy Arnold's later releases and a full 6 years after his last release and another of the reasons why he has had such a renaissance in the latter part of his career. This album is a good combination of original songs, both old and new, as well as a sprinkling of lesser known covers. There is everything from a little swing on "Lets Work It Out" through to soulful blues on "Just Got To Know" and onto a little boogie on "Boogie and Shuffle".

Boogie 'n' Shuffle available on Amazon

8. Ten Million Dollars

Ten Million Dollars was Billy Boys Arnold's last album, from 1984, before an extended layoff which saw his fans wait another 10 years before he recorded again during which time he faded into obscurity and ended up driving a bus in Chicago. Indeed at this stage of his career he couldn't even find anyone in the US to record him. Therefore this album was recorded in France where he was still feted, he however goes the tried and trusted blues standard route and there are only a few original songs on this album.

Ten Million Dollars CD available on Amazon

9. Live at the Venue

What listing would be complete without at least one live recording of this great harp player and this case it is Live at the Venue. This live recording sees Billy Boy covers songs from throughout his long career including of course "I Wish You Would" and "Blues Before Sunrise" but also "Catfish" and "Dirty Mother F**ker" here called "Dirty Mother Fuyer"

Live at the Venue available on Amazon

10. Live in Chicago 1963

Lastly another live recording from much earlier in Billy Boy Arnold's career, this time 1963 in Chicago, although not released until 2006. The  Live in Chicago 1963 CD is great stuff including the superbly named "She Wants to Sell My Monkey".

Live in Chicago 1963 available on Amazon

Which do you reckon is Billy Boy Arnolds best album?

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