WALTER TROUT - Survivor Blues (Album)
When a blues legend like WALTER TROUT decides to record an album of blues covers, you can be sure it won’t be a run of the mill rehash of some of the biggest hits that have been done before. Trout carefully picked out the soundtrack to his career that has spanned five decades. From his formative years in the ’60s, through John Lee Hooker in the ’70s, John Mayall and Canned Heat in the ’80s, right up to his solo career which itself has lasted almost thirty years.
Next, having chosen the tracks, Trout put together a group of musicians with a similar passion for the blues that he himself displays, and headed into the L.A. studio owned by The Doors guitarist Robby Krieger. Playing most of the tracks live in the studio, and giving everyone a free hand to interpreting the songs, the outcome has been an album bursting with emotion and hard-hitting blues.
It was WALTER TROUT’s wife Marie who came up with the title for the album after watching this band of blues stalwarts perform, even after the break-ups, heartbreaks, heart attacks and cancers that they have all worked through. ‘Survivors Blues’ is the product of the dedication of fifty years of making music the Walter Trout way.
Album opener ‘Me, My Guitar and the Blues’ is a rework of Jimmy Dawkins’ track from the ’60s, which was an early influence on a young WALTER TROUT, just as he was starting out on his career. Updating the track slightly with a smoother, cleaner, more polished guitar sound compared to the original, this is a similar kind of sound Gary Moore was producing at the height of his blues period and transcends the decades as an updated, modern blues classic.
‘Be Careful How You Vote’ is still a very wise piece of advice, and it’s also totally reworked and updated into a much livelier rocking blues number compared to the original. Trout is joined on vocals be rising blues singer/songwriter Sugaray Rayford for the next track, ‘Woman Don’t Lie’, who manages to bring a soulful funky groove to this song. While his vocals match the gravel tones of Trout, his gospel choir background shines through when he hits the high notes.
Track four, ‘Sadie’ is a bass driven, heart breaker about losing out on love, with a solo that almost sounds like the guitar is weeping too. In contrast, the following track ‘Please Love Me’ is a more uplifting number, with a good pounding rhythm to it, and Walter literally pulling the strings all the way to the end. John Mayall wrote ‘Natures Disappearing’ as a protest against man’s disregard for the planet, and the ecological problems our pollution has on the environment. This is even more relevant thirty years on. Trout strains his vocals slightly in an attempt to sound more like Mayall. He would have been better sticking to his own gravelly blues style, it suits him better. And the difference in style is emphasized even more in the next track ‘Red Sun’. Here, Trout comfortably lets his voice ride the scales, and the higher he goes, the better he sounds.
‘Something Inside of Me’ is a cut-back to basics, traditional blues piece reminiscent of great bluesmen such as BB King. And likewise, ‘It Takes Time’ wouldn’t be out of place in a set list for Albert King. Both of these tracks allow Trout to have a free hand in the solos and produce some of the best licks on the album.
‘Out of Bad Luck’ is a reflection on Trout’s battle with, and come back, from cancer. An update on Magic Sam’s 1966 blues hit, but Trout manages to stretch this version out to more than double the original two-minute wonder by incorporating his own guitar style into the solo.
Studio owner and Doors guitarist Robby Krieger was a regular visitor during the recording of this album, and his persistence finally paid off when he was invited by Trout to take up the slide guitar and ‘Go ahead Robby’ to add his contribution to ‘Goin’ Down That River’, which adds a mellow southern touch to contrast Trout’s wailing blues Strat.
The album closes out with J.B. Lenoirs ‘Gods Word’. Although the original is a stripped back basic blues song, with only a guitar and vocals, Trout rearranges it with the full band to give it more punch and power than it ever had before, and give it far more clout than when it was originally released in 1965.
There’s no doubt WALTER TROUT is back, and this is the backing track to his many years as a recording artist and performer. Not only reflecting his own career, but the major players who have influenced him over the years, and he pays tribute to them on this album.
The album is due to be released on January 25th, 2019, and available now to pre-order, and is supported by a World Tour right through Spring and Summer 2019.
1. Me, My Guitar and the Blues
2. Be Careful How You Vote
3. Woman Don’t Lie (feat. Sugaray Rayford)
5. Please Love Me
6. Nature’s Disappearing
7. Red Sun
8. Something Inside Of Me
9. It Takes Time
10. Out of Bad Luck
11. Goin’ Down To The River (feat. Robby Krieger)
12. God’s Word
Walter Trout - Guitar and lead vocals
Sammy Avila - Hammond B3 and backup vocals
Johnny Griparic - Bass
Michael Leasure - Drums and backup vocals