Dear Walter, the great survivor, has helped a ton of artists in his time. I think from talking to him a couple of times – around the time when we were both dodging The Reaper – that to give is the best thing a human can do. Hence when he came to make this new album, there was no shortage of collaborators. These pals and his lovely family give Trout a safety net. Here, he has set to work creating songs to showcase each guest. Eric Corne produces with the same aplomb he brings to John Mayall’s recent recordings.
Gonna Hurt Like Hell with Kenny Wayne Shepherd is the opener. A Texas shuffle of classic style. A cautionary tale delivered by Walter, with puffing Hammond bouncing in the mix. The first solo sounds like a nod to the late Albert Collins. After another verse Kenny rocks in, fluid and sparky.
Ain’t Goin’ Back features Sonny Landreth has a Louisiana chug and the ghost-like Landreth slide swooping in and out and at 2:05 off goes Sonny! The Other Side of The Pillow finds harpist Charlie Musselwhite alongside our man on a dust-flecked moody tune. The trilling harp hovers over the song like a vulture. Quite a nasty lyric, especially when Charlie takes a verse. A punchup beckons!
She Listens To The Blackbird Sing has Mike Zito on a strident acoustic-led country rocker. A really cool and driven effort that reminds me of The Marshall Tucker Band and their fresh-air creations. Mr Davis features Robben Ford and swings like a sack of diamonds. The Sky Is Crying pairs Walter with Warren Haynes on the classic Elmore blues whilst Somebody Goin’ Down has Eric Gales has a thrusting tempo and funk roll to it. Typically gritty with powerful bass from the core band’s Johnny Griparic, with that grinding guitar sound chopping away.
She Steals My Heart Away displays the talents of Edgar Winter – who’s Q & A with us gives the full lowdown on Frankenstein as only the originator can explain – on sax on a subtle Stax-like ballad and Walter’s best vocal on the collection. Edgar sings too. A lovely and soulful composition with an echo of Little Milton and the Malaco label. Crash & Burn finds Joe Louis Walker aboard and I guess this may be one of his last recordings? It’s not the Blues Traveller number of the same name, but a more early-Buddy Guy kinda song.
Too Much To Carry brings John Nemeth to the party on a steady rock-blues. The harp is steamy and powerful. Do You Still See Me At All gets son Jon Trout upfront for a Cray-type song noir. His voice is sounding fine, here too. Got Nothin’ Left features Randy Bachman on a tune bursting with angry axe-riffing and set at cracking pace. Tough guitar work to the fore on this contribution, riff trade-offs galore. Blues For Jimmy T pairs Walter with John Mayall with his former BluesBreaker boss, for an acoustic guitar and unamplified harmonica that has a pure porch sound. Of course, these two know each other so well. Mayall’s singing has his usual plaintive delivery.
Final track here We’re All In This Together links Trout with Joe Bonamassa. It sounds really purposeful from the off. The pounding bass and steady drums give a platform for the guitar players to jump around. Just over a minute in, Joe takes a verse. The solo’s are fleet and energised…hell, what would you expect?!
It’s a little strange and pleasing for me that – looking at the participants – I seem to have met many (no, most) of them and played with Mike Zito…overall though I am from conversations well aware of their respect for Walter and that they will have felt honoured to be at this celebration of his talent and character.