Walter Trout - The Outsider
13 songs; 68:37 min.
All songs written by Walter Trout (plus Rick Knapp on the title track)
I had the pleasure of seeing Walter the first time at the Tampa Bay Blues Fest in 2000, I think, and he blew me away. Walter Trout was voted sixth best guitar player in a 1993 BBC radio poll with 154 guitarists voted on, and thousands of votes cast. Only one vote separated 3rd and 4th and only a few votes between 4th and 6th. Further kudos, The Dutch National radio station “Arrow Classic Rock” asked their listeners to make a list of what they felt was the best blues songs ever made. It turned in to a Top 50 Best Blues Songs list, and Walter Trout is leading the list in #1 with the song, “Say Goodbye to the Blues (1991). His version of Jimi Hendrix's “Red House” (on “Life in the Jungle”) is at #24 on the list. Quoting David Wilson of “The Tonequest Report,” “Walter Trout isn't just a great guitar player. He works from the heart with a flawless and fiery edge. When Walter Trout plays, he owns you!”
Hard rockin’ blues man Walter Trout has come out with a real winner CD, again; "The Outsider" is partly hard driving with some change of pace slower music.
Reflecting 3 and 1/2 decades of experience, playing, touring, and being tutored by some of the very best, Walter says, “I've been loved, and I've been hated. I've been praised and vilified. I've been accused and vindicated and more....” Wow! These lyrics are in his first song, “Welcome to the Human Race,” an autobiography. This song is so very well done, I love it. It has everything: fantastic lyrics, slashing, stinging guitar riffs and a very nice gravely tone in Walter's voice. This guy is something else. You can read and/or sing along because the lyrics are included in the CD’s liner notes.
Four more standouts worth mentioning are “The love Song of J. Alfred Bluesrock,” “Child of Another Day,” “Can’t Have It All,” and the title track “The Outsider.”
On Track 4, “The love Song of J. Alfred Bluesrock,” Sammy Avila just kicks it on the big B3 organ when its time for his lead part. There’s a very notable second lead part by Walter with a very long double lead with some really good riffs. Again, great lyrics.
Track 6 is “Child of Another Day.” Again, great vocals, unbelievable lyrics, and this one has a guest appearance by Jason Ricci who is outstanding on the harmonica. By song’s end, there’s a little dueling guitar vs. harmonica very tastefully done.
Track 11 is set to the tune of “Hootchie Cootchie Man” ala Muddy Waters. Here’s really good lyrics like, “The politicians painted smile / Soon begins to fade. He's drunk on booze and power / Like a priest that just got laid.”
The final cut and title track has really good everything! This one is written by Walter and bass player Rick Knapp. It’s down and dirty 12 bar blues the way I like it. Absolutely great riffs by Walter and again, slashing, biting guitar to make Stevie and Jimi turn over in their graves to listen to the new/old, how about “very well seasoned,” guitar slinger that knows how to it!
Walter was born in 1951 in New Jersey. As a young music lover, he started playing the trumpet, and when he got to meet the Legendary Duke Ellington, he then knew he wanted to try to pursue a music career on the horn. But, in the mid 1960s he heard Michael Bloomfield on guitar from The Paul Butterfield Blues band and changed his instrument to guitar and his music to blues.
In 1973 he moved to L.A. where he became an ace sideman playing with many of the old greats like, Lowell Folsom, Percy Mayfield, Pee Wee Crayton, John Lee Hooker, and even Big Mama Thornton - to name just a few.
By the early 80s he was primed, and people were starting to hear about him everywhere when he got the nod from the blues based rock band Canned Heat. He stayed with them a few years until he got the call to play with one of his childhood heroes in the blues, John Mayall’s Blues Breakers. It was like living a dream for him. On the way up, though, he unfortunately found a new friend named Jack, that is “Jack Daniels.” After a drunken performance in East Berlin, Carlos Santana nicely took him aside and said, “You are wasting God’s gift.” He soon became sober.
The Outsider – go buy this one! Keep and play it often, and then look up and get one of his other 17 recordings (but some are no longer available).
This review by Tom “THE ENERGIZER" Schlesinger, a seasoned Blues lover and fan for many years, a veteran to a many Blues Festivals and The Legendary Blues Cruise in the Caribbean.