Blesok no. 34, September-October, 2003
Walter Trout & The Radicals – Relentless
Ruf Records 1083
The name of Walter Trout is recognised by the fans world over who cherish his uncompromising, no holds barred approach to blues rock idiom. Guitarist extraordinaire Walter Trout is much welcome figure to any music celebration, be it big arena stadium or small club full of devoted music lovers. His aggressive guitar playing unlike most of his competition is full of emotion and his every gig is 100 per cent pure musical happening Walter Trout style. He has thirty-five years of hard work behind him, years of searching his own voice, honed craft with the masters like John Mayall, total dedication to his work and it shows with every new record he makes. “Relentless” is a natural progression of his art and probably his best work to date. As far as I know, he also is most likely the first artist who had prepared new, original music and instead of studio, recorded it in front of his fans! Lucky people in attendance were gathered in famous Paradiso club in Amsterdam where Walter delivered what he had and how! He is also one of the few artists whose discograhy includes more live albums than the studio ones, it’s simple to understand that: Walter Trout can be best sampled in live setting, raw and unpolished. “Relentless” is the title that says it all, a bunch of original songs that reflect his life, years of struggle, ups and downs of working musician and plainly the happiness of being alive and making people happy. This is powerful staff that oozes with passion and feeling of the man who has gone a long way. Fourteen songs present Walter at his best, his songwriting is exceptional, each song is a story of his life, experience and vision. Backed by his exceptional band The Radicals, Walter Trout starts the festivities with heavy opener “I’m Tired” that sets the pace and indicates what is to follow, around 75 minutes of pure blues rock delight! “The Life I Choose” is Little Feat type rocker which just might be his life-on-the-road sountrack, while acoustic“Jericho Road”, “Lonely Tonight” and “Cry If You want To” are ballads not usually associated with his style of rock, but are adding nice touch to the proceedings with his emotional vocal delivery. “Work No More” is pure blues in definitive Walter Trout delivery, you just cannot avoid being mesmerized by his abilities to deliver what he does best! Others my try but nobody touches Walter on his ground! Few rockers like like “Helpin’ Hand” with its nod to The Rolling Stones, “Chatroom Girl” and “Collingswood” add his usual spice to the whole picture with guitar solos which resonate in your head for some time after you listened to “Relentless” album, after all its title that explains it all! This is premier league blues rocking material, if you are into this stuff miss it at your peril!
Various artists – Where Blues Meets Rock Vol.5
“Provogue” is probably the best independent label in the world that carries vast production of blues rock related releases. Many of the biggest names in this genre has started their recording careers on this Ducth label based in small city of Berkel.”Where Blues Meets Rock” is name of the series of releases which serve as an excellent introduction to label’s recent music. Newcomers like Greg Koch, Michael Lee Firkins or Steve Fister among others rub shoulders with big names including Omar & The Howlers, Dave Hole, Carl Verheyen, Michael Katon and others in this fine samplers which is also evident in Volume 5 where we can enjoy album tracks and sometimes tracks of soon to be released material. It offers more than 60 minutes of high quality blues rock and at budget price it’s a real steal!
Album opens with guitar wizzard Paul Gilbert who will knock your socks of with his high octane “Girls Watching”. He is joined by his equally talented uncle?!) Jimmy Kid, who was actually Paul’s mentor in his early days! Together they rock like possesed and if your feet stand still, you’re probably dead! You can’t take a breath and Michael Katon will ambush you with a breakneck speed boogie “The Detriot River Dirty Blues” and if that is not enough, there’s Jay Hooks to put additional heat on the proceedings with “Last Stand” from his “Red Line” album. This Texan can really put a punch be it studio or live setting.
Worth mentioning is “Black Dog Blues”, a nice shuffle performed by an British all-star band The Barrelhouse Brothers (Jeff Ward, Noel Jones, Paul King, Noel Redding…). Omar & The Howlers deliver some slow blues “Life Without You” with fine lyrics and plenty of hot licks that will keep you smiling, while Carl Verheyen (ex-Supertramp) is doing The Beatles justice with his beautiful version of “Yes It Is”, this really is a magnificent version! Newcomers Greg Koch and Steve Fister present why there were chosen to have their stuff released on Provogue and you should check that too. Rob Tognoni and Dave Hole from Down Under (that’s Australia for you!) are equally good and deservedly take their spots in this fine company of artists. What can you say about Michael Lee Firkins or Craig Erickson? These guys really cook and put additional spice in this collection which should easily take its place in any blues rock fan’s collection provided he’s willing to hear established masters and new kids on the block. Well done again Yvo, Ed and the rest at Provogue.