OLE' Walter Trout is between a rock and a hard spot for most radio stations in the Midwest, he's too bluesy for rock and too rocky for blues. Duh--he's "blues rock"--what's so hard to figure. Create a new format and let's get on with it. There are lots of these guys out there! Stevie opened the door, but radio is way too slow to pick up on this rapid movement between rock and blues. Anyway, let's get started on this review.
Most know Trout as a killer guitarist, but what set's him apart from thousands of others is his voice and his commitment to his art. Trout has joined the ranks of singer/songwriters who also play great guitar such as, Stevie Ray, Gary Moore, Les Dudek, Jeff Healey and Rick Derringer, to name a few. It's not just a job to these guys -it's a "passion play" being worked on at every job. Walter writes most of his material and the CD reaps the rewards in his latest effort Go The Distance. Released in May on Ruf Records and produced by none other than Jim Gaines (Blues Traveler, Stevie Ray, Santana to name a few). Trout has been picking since 15 and the years of hard road & booze took its toll. The story goes while on tour with John Mayall, a saturated Trout was confronted by Santana and told him that his gift was from God and staying drunk was like giving "the big guy" the finger. So Trout took it to heart, buckled down and has been inspired anew.
His stellar band "The Radicals" consists of Jim Trap on bass, Bernard Pershy on drums and finally, on keyboards, Bill Mann, whom I credit with the polished blues- rock feel this CD has. It is somewhat rare these days to hear a good Hammond solo rip and snort on a guitarist album. But Trout lets Mann rip it up and the listener gets that early 70s feel right between the eyes. Let's not forget from 1969 through 1975 the Hammond organ ruled. This disk opens up with my fav Love So Deep. A boogie slowed down a notch so as not to be confused with "Canned Heat" I'm guessing. After all --Trout did play with them. The next tune Out Of Control mixes a little Mitch Ryder with Little Richard and defiantly dials in on a place in time. With the exception of Faithful To You (for his wife of 12 years) and Bugle Billie (for a Vietnam vet) the album stays true blues-rock ala Trout. Down To You and Message In The Doorway had enough smokin guitar, I had to turn it off for awhile and go practice. Now I'll be the first to tell you, Walter Trout's sound doesn't cover new ground in this arena--Stevie covered it first. But what is nice is that all the songs are great, his guitar work is hot as can be expected and his voice is necessary for all blues rockers to hear. With each line he sings, there's that commitment to this art form--blues-rock. Walter Trout has played with some big troops out there such as J.L. Hooker, Big Moma Thorton, Canned Heat and shared time with Coco Montoya in John Mayall's blues-breakers. So he knows the deal and has learned that to move forward, you must study the past.
I love this CD flat out. This gets my on- hour commute to work grade of A. He is also featured on a Ruf CD called Blue Haze featuring the music of Hendrix performed by Ruf Records artist. So-go shopping, you won't be disappointed!!!
This review is copyright © 2001 by Kit M Jones, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.