Since his time as a member of Canned Heat and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, New
Jersey-born guitarist Walter Trout has spent endless time on the road, making a name for himself as a solo artist. Long revered in Europe where he was voted at the sixth greatest guitarist of all time in a 1993 BBC poll, Trout is finally beginning to make a name for himself in the United States. Trout's 2000 release of Live Trout on RUF Records gave Trout the opportunity to showcase his legendary guitar and his command of high-powered blues rock. Having attended the 2000 Tampa Bay Blues Festival when the Live Trout CD was recorded, I can personally attest to Trout's ability to light up an audience.
Walter Trout's latest release on RUF Records is entitled Go The Distance. This
recording really demonstrates just how far Trout has progressed as a performer and a
musician. Where Trout's previous recording (import and domestic) have featured
Trout's intense, rapid-fire guitar and his ability to jam a large number of notes into a
very small time frame, Go The Distance reveals Trout as a more mature guitarist who
seems to do a lot more to blend with the other members of the band and to make sure that the listener "feels" every note that he plays.
Accompanied by long time band members Bill Mason (keyboards), James Trapp (bass) and Bernard Pershey (drums), Walter displays a new sense of his musicianship, actually playing fewer notes, but putting a great deal more emotion into each one. The music on the 13 track recording also offers more variety, ranging from the prototypical fiery blues rocker, "Down To You," to the sad folkish tale found in "Bugle Billy," a song written about a friend who was killed in Vietnam. Along with "Always Been A Dreamer," "Bugle Billy" helps to demonstrate the softer, acoustic side of Trout's music.
Other songs on the CD range from straight ahead blues to blues rock to songs that have a bit of a jazzier feel thanks to the addition of saxophonist Pat Register and trumpet player Mark Thompson on several songs. The opening number, "Love So Deep" gets the CD off on the right foot with classic blues lines and fine guitar by Trout. "Looking For the Promise Land" is an interesting tune that provides historic references to Daniel, Moses and Martin Luther King as "Dan, Mo and Marty." Another song, "I Don't Want My MTV" is a rock n' roll lament to the video music channels lack of real music that Walter can actually relate to as a musician. Finally, "Faithful" is a great song and one of several that Trout has written through the years that is directed towards his relationship with his wife.
With the style and emotion offered on Go The Distance, I would rate this CD as one
of Trout's very best. Given that I have never heard a Walter Trout CD that I did not
like, that says a lot about the quality of this recording. For more information, or to
purchase Go The Distance, visit Walter Trout's website at www.waltertrout.com.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, 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.