Walter Trout – Alive In Amsterdam
Provogue Records (June 2016)
Reviewer: Peter Scallan
Walter Trout is one of these artists that down through the years I have heard the odd song and never got around to buying any albums. Therefore, when offered the chance to review this album I jumped at the chance! He has been around for quite some time, including spells with both Canned Heat and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers before becoming a solo artist. Recently he suffered serious health issues which could have been fatal, so I am guessing the album title is a play on the fact that he is still about, kicking up a storm.
From the get-go the man receives a standing ovation before launching into the opening track called ‘Help Me‘ which opens with Walter soloing his ass off and also includes an organ solo midway resulting in just over seven minutes of bluestatstic rocking. This is quickly followed by ‘a song with message’ in ‘I’m Back‘ and this rocks along too. The pace drops for some slow burning blues in ‘Say Goodbye to the Blues‘ which could comfortably sit on any of Gary Moore’s blues albums with the opening guitar salvo. The song is dedicated to BB King with Walter explaining his relationship with the late, great man. We slip back into some blues rock with ‘Almost Gone‘ which lyrically sounds like it could be autobiographical in terms of Walter’s health issues. Based on a driving blues rock riff it rocks along nicely. In fact, the next song is autobiographical in that it is about his stay in hospital during his illness. Entitled ‘Omaha‘ it describes his experience during his illness and is another blues rocker. ‘Tomorrow Seems So Far Away‘ has a funky blues feel to it and bounces nicely around a great bass line and keeps up the theme from the previous two songs. The feel and pace change dramatically for ‘Playin’ Hideaway‘ which is a pacey riffed-up rocker with Walter sounding great vocally too. It also has some crowd participation for the woahs in the chorus. The closing song on the first CD is ‘Haunted By The Night‘ which is more moody and laid back with great guitar part driving the song. So far, so good!
The second disc doesn’t hang around opens with the superb ‘Fly Away‘ which is more blues with a melodic rock edge. It moves along swiftly with Walter giving an assured vocal performance. Next up is an acoustic ballad which sounds more country rock and for some strange reason reminds me of Pat Travers. Entitled ‘Please Take Me Home‘, Walter again provides a great vocal performance in terms of doing exactly what the song requires. In addition there is some rather tasteful guitar playing. Next up is a bit of a blues jam session with Walter introducing his son to the proceedings with the old blues standard ‘Rock Me Baby‘. While I am sure it is a real buzz for Walter playing with his son and pretty good to watch for me it does really translate to record as I found his son’s playing a little pedestrian in comparison to Walter’s – he still has a little way to go to be a chip off the old block! With ‘Marie’s Mood‘ the Gary Moore comparison is again valid. Walter treats us to some rather neat guitar work during this instrumental work out and shares the limelight with a great organ solo again. The mood is lifted for the slow burning blues of ‘Serves Me Right to Suffer‘. Opening with a great guitar solo, Walter trades off vocal and guitar licks as the song progresses. Coming in at well over eight minutes it highlights just how good a guitar player Walter is and also includes a drum solo. Last and by no means least, we have ‘The Love That We Once Knew‘ which is clearly a crowd favourite. Slipping back into an acoustic country rock vibe again, the crowd join in on the chorus and some it brings the set to a suitable close.
Having no real significant experience or knowledge of Walter’s back catalogue, this has served as a great introduction to Walter Trout for me. While by no means being innovative, Walter serves a great mix of rock, blues and a little country that really appeals to me. A sign maybe that I am becoming a boring old fart possibly, as the same time I find the melodic rock scene starting to converge on a generic style and sound, as it did in the 80s, that on the whole leaves me rather unmoved. My advice, check this out if you want to hear some real music – old guys rool!