First Appeared at The Music Box, November 2000, Volume 7, #11
Written by John Metzger
There's no question that Walter Trout is an extremely gifted guitarist. His talent is second to none, and he plays his instrument with amazingly dexterous, mathematical precision. Too often, however, guitarists who are so technically proficient lean heavily toward showboating their technique and style. In return, they wind up delivering an almost cold and calculated performance that completely lacks emotion. Many have fallen into this pattern, but few move beyond it.
For a long time that could be said of Trout. However, on his recent studio album Livin' Every Day, he successfully broke through his emotional wall as he alternated between ripping ferocious leads and delivering tender solos. Consequently, he found himself moving one step closer to his personal hero Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Unfortunately, the same can't quite be said for his follow-up — the unimaginatively titled Live Trout. At times, the guitarist delves a little too deeply into his frenetic fretwork, bringing down the effectiveness of several tracks. In concert, Trout's pyrotechnics are quite intriguing to watch, however, they lose something when relegated to the non-visual aspects of a compact disc. As a result, songs like Livin' Every Day and Gotta Broken Heart drag on a bit too long, despite their energetic delivery.
Nevertheless, there's plenty here that makes Live Trout a worthy addition to any blues collection. Capturing the guitarist's entire performance at the Tampa Bay Blues Festival earlier this year, the two-disc set is a vibrant demonstration of the many talents of Trout and his band. At their best, the group is a tight-knit blues unit whose musical interplay is a true joy to hear.
On Say What You Mean, bassist James Trapp and drummer Bernard Pershey produce a simmering funk groove, which frames the incendiary lead of Trout and the textured Hammond B3 organ of Paul Kallestad. Likewise, The Reason I'm Gone aches with the sorrow of a broken heart before Trout unleashes a blistering display of anger (mixed with a touch of Beethoven) that concludes the song. Further, the ensemble's rendition of Bob Dylan's I Shall Be Released sails gloriously towards redemption.
Trout's recent recordings show his maturity as an artist, and they demonstrate his renewed focus on making music that transcends the typical blues fare. Despite its missteps, Live Trout is no exception. Between his passionate vocals, his enviable guitar playing, and the top-notch musicianship of his backing band, Trout is a performer who deserves to be heard.
Of Further Interest...
Live Trout is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2000 The Music Box