Making a Scene - "Survivor Blues" Review



After a residence in Los Angeles where guitarist Walter Trout found work with Big Mama Thornton, John Lee Hooker, and Joe Tex he became the lead guitarist in “Canned Heat”. He left them in 1985 only to join “John Mayall and his Bluesbreakers”. In 1989 he formed his own band and began to develop a formidable reputation in Europe. “Walter Trout and The Free Radicals” released their first U.S. album in 1998.


Trout received his first Blues Music Award nomination for his album “The Outsider” in 2009. During a recording session in 2014 Trout was diagnosed with severe liver disease. His wife Marie raised money through donations by fans, enabling Trout to complete a successful liver transplant. He resumed touring in 2015 and won BMA’s the following year for both Song of The Year (“Gonna Live Again”); and Rock Blues Album of The Year (“Battle Scars”). Overall Trout has accumulated 10 BMA nominations winning for the third time for last year’s album “We’re All in This Together”.


Trout, guitar and vocals, is currently performing the best music of his career and explains his inspiration for this new endeavor “I’m riding in my car sometimes, and I’ve got a blues station on and here’s another band doing ‘Got My Mojo Workin’. And there’s a little voice in me that says, ‘Does the world need another version of that song?’ So I came up with an idea. I didn’t want to do ‘Stormy Monday’ or ‘Messin’ With The Kid.’ I didn’t want to do the Blues greatest hits. I wanted to do old, obscure songs that have hardly been covered, and that’s how “Survivor Blues” started.”  All of the songs feature new arrangements by Trout. His band throughout the recording includes Skip Edwards, keyboards; Johnny Griparic, bass; and Michael Leasure, drums. The album is produced by Eric Corne.


Trout opens with “Me, My Guitar and The Blues” written and first recorded by the Chicago bluesman Jimmy “Fast Fingers” Dawkins; it was the title track on his 1997 Ichiban Records release. Dawkins who released his first album in 1969 on Delmark Records was an early influence on Trout who feels that the last line “Since you left me, all I have left is me, my guitar and the blues’ is one of the greatest lyrics I’ve heard in my life and I start crying just saying it, my wife thinks it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”


“Be Careful How You Vote” is not a new song; written and recorded by Sunnyland Slim in 1983 the song “stresses the importance of choosing carefully at the ballot box”. “Woman Don’t Lie” is by Luther “Snake Boy” Johnson who played with both Elmore James and Muddy Waters; there is a great online video of Snake Boy playing this in Paris 1973. “Sadie” is from Hound Dog Taylor and The Houserockers, and appeared on their second Alligator Records album “Natural Boogie” released in 1974. “Please Love Me” is from B.B. King and the lead track to his 1957 Crown Records recording “Singin’ The Blues”.


“Nature’s Disappearing” written by John Mayall appeared on his 1970 Polydor Records release “U.S.A. Union”. The song pre-dates Trout’s celebrated tenure in the Bluesbreakers which didn’t begin until the 1980’s, but the songs inclusion gives a nod to Mayall’s influence. The song is still relevant today with more concern than ever about our environment.


Robby Krieger, the former guitarist for the “Doors” and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee plays slide guitar while Trout plays lead on Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “Goin’ Down To The River”.

Other selected covers include Floyd Lee’s “Red Sun”; Elmore James’ “Something Inside of Me”; Otis Rush’s “It Takes Time”; Magic Sam’s “Out of Bad Luck”; and J.B. Lenoir’s “God’s Word”.


Trout further states “I find that old blues songs somehow make me feel better. They hold a power that I do not fully understand, and certainly don’t need to understand either.  I dig out an old blues album, sit back, and let the music take me on a journey and somehow feel transformed.”

We love to recognize the influences within our music. Trout has given us the album we have longed for. Thanks for the journey.

Richard Ludmerer


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