I’ve always put Walter Trout in with a batch of players who exist out there who just go out and play blazing blues-rock with great intensity, and have a small following that adores them, for good reason. They play great, sing great, and spend lots of time on the road for fans who are as loyal as they come. So, this record full of new tunes, recorded live, makes perfect sense. It also helps that it, as you’d expect, cooks.
Trout gets things rolling fast with “I’m Tired.” It features three-string bends that immediately bring to mind Albert King. The solo is plain-old hot-dog heaven. Big, fat tones and notes bouncing off the walls. And, a lyric most everyone can identify with at some time in their life. The “road dawg” lyric of “The Life I Choose” is one a lot of musicians will give a knowing smile to. And the guitar, with its subltle nod to Jimi, will keep that smile there. The hard shuffle of “Talk To Ya” really lets Walter show his sand-paper vocals to their fullest. “Cry If You Want To” is a southern soul tune. It lets Walter do some nice Curtis Mayfield-style soloing up front.
As you’d expect, there is a slow blues here that lets Walter show his prowess. “My Heart is True” is one of those songs that could easily fall into cliché, but Trout never lets that happen. There’s a ton of tunes here that are just real solid, with some excellent guitar playing. “Collingswood,” “Empty Eyes,” and “Mercy” all are better than what the so-called blues-rock “star” bands offer on your local classic rock stations. They’re full of energy and heart, and just plain-old great playing and singing.
If you’re already a Walter Trout fan, you’ll get this and love it. If you’re not, it’s a good way to get introduced to the man. While the songs are fresh and new, the crowd interaction lets you get a feel for what Trout does on stage.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Dec. ’03 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.