Provogue Records 2014
12 Tracks – 58 minutes
Walter’s current health issues are well known to all blues fans so it was great to read that he has now had the liver transplant that he needed to save his life. What we hear on this CD underlines that Walter is a fighter and it is certainly a fact that during his illness he continued to play and record until his health prevented it. This CD must have been recorded then because there is absolutely no sign of weakness here as Walter powers through a typical set of material, all original bar one cover and a jam attributed to Walter’s ex-boss John Mayall.
Opening with the appropriately entitled “Wastin’ Away” Walter gives us some personal lyrics about his condition with a typical guitar performance, supported by the B3. Walter’s albums often feature songs about issues that bug him and a typical example is the angry “The World Is Going Crazy”.
Another personal lyric appears on “The Bottom Of The River” where resonator and harp are at the heart of the music with Walter playing a searing solo on electric, a song about carrying on in the worst of times. Relieving the mood “Take A Little Time” is an upbeat Chuck Berry-style rocker with a positive message about letting love into your life. JB Lenoir’s “The Whale” (coincidentally also covered on Tommy Castro’s new album) recounts the story of Jonah, another tale of man overcoming the odds, played as a tribute to JB and to John Mayall who introduced Walter to his music.
The harp is prominent on “Willie”, Walter’s tale of being ripped off in the music business. Unfortunately the advance copy I had for review did not show the personnel so this may be John Mayall again, but I cannot be sure. What is definitely JM is “Mayall’s Piano Boogie”, an impromptu studio jam that is good fun and shows a very different side to Walter’s playing.
Time then for one of Walter’s specialities, a slow blues and “Born In The City” does not disappoint as Walter pays tribute to his early years in Philadelphia – no country retreat for this bluesman! Amazing guitar playing here with the band backing Walter to the hilt.
“Tight Shoes” is an instrumental in Freddie King style and it’s terrific. The story behind the title is hilarious but should be saved for when readers purchase the album! The title track features John Mayall on B3 over a chugging riff and another very personal lyric expressing the fears that one gets when threatened by illness but Walter overcomes those fears to remain positive.
Things get a little funky on “Hard Times” before the album closer, a slow blues message from Walter to his devoted wife Marie, “Nobody Moves Me Like You Do”. It makes a fitting finale to this fine album with emotional lyrics matched by Walter’s performance on guitar.
Walter Trout tends to divide opinion but he has always remained his own man, determined to pursue his vision of electric guitar blues. He has produced many fine albums but “The Blues Came Callin’” with its emotional as well as artistic content ranks with his best. Let us all hope that we will be able to see Walter perform these songs live in the future.