Provogue Records PRD75282
14 songs – 70 minutes
Fans of blues rock rejoiced three short years ago when Walter Trout literally battled back from the brink of death after laying in a hospital bed in critical condition for months with liver failure.
Thanks to the fierce efforts of his devoted wife Marie and a liver transplant, the guitar legend has bounced back stronger than ever, carrying forward a career that’s included lengthy stints with two of the most famous units in music: John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Canned Heat , in addition to dozen releases under his own name and countless guest appearances with other performers.
We’re All In This Together provides another cause for celebration. Walter’s recorded it with 14 top names in the industry after previously composing tunes to do with all but one of them. The all-star lineup includes Randy Bachman, Joe Bonamassa, Robben Ford, Eric Gales, Warren Haynes, Sonny Landreth, Charlie Musselwhite, John Németh, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Joe Louis Walker, Edgar Winter, Mike Zito, Mayall and Trout’s son Jon, a skilled string bender himself, who fronted his father’s band when his dad was unable.
Walter released two previous CDs since his recovery, but neither is anything like this. The studio album Battle Scars poignantly revealed his turmoil as he recounted his innermost thoughts lay dying, and the Alive In Amsterdam served as a powerful declaration that he was fully back in top form in front of a live audience.
As he clearly states in the liner notes, this one carries a different message. It was created so Walter “could have some fun and jam with some friends.” He’s assisted by his regular keyboard player Sammy Avila and drummer Michael Leasure. They’re augmented by Jonny Griparic on bass and Deacon Jones and Skip Edwards on organ.
The intense uptempo shuffle “Gonna Hurt Like Hell” opens the action with Shepherd trading licks to deliver the message that no matter what mistake you make, you’re going to pay for it when you finally realize what you’ve done. Landreth partners on slide for the next one, “Ain’t Goin’ Back,” a roots rocker that swings from the jump, before Musselwhite’s harp graces the slow blues, “The Other Side Of The Pillow.” He and Trout share vocals and writing credits with Walter borrowing a line from a tune sent to him by Richard T. Bear.
“She Listens To The Blackbird Sing” follows with Zito pairing on six-string. It’s a fiery semi-acoustic number that describes a lady who escapes from her troubles by tuning in to the bird of the title. Ford joins the action for “Mr. Davis,” a sweeping walking blues instrumental with pleasing scale runs, before the only cover in the set, a burning version of Elmore James’ “The Sky Is Crying,” with Haynes adding incendiary riffs.
“Somebody Goin’ Down” features the chops of Gales for a romp that begins in the Bo Diddley vein, but evolves into a funk before Winter steps into the studio to help deliver the ballad “She Steals My Heart Away.” Walter credits Walker with discovering him in the ’70s. They’re together for “Crash And Burn,” a searing political statement about no longer wanting to watch the news, before Trout trades licks with Nemeth’s harp — he also delivers the vocals — for “Too Much To Carry,” a medium-tempo blues about dealing with life’s burdens.
It’s all in the family for the tasty “Do You Still See Me At All,” which features son Jon on second guitar, before Bachman and Trout go into overdrive for the rocker “Got Nothin’ Left.” Walter’s old boss, Mayall, joins the action on harp for the acoustic “Blues For Jimmy T.,” which pays tribute to Jimmy Trapp, Trout’s old bassist and best friend. Bonamassa helps bring the album to a close and shares vocals with the slow and steady “We’re All In This Together.”
If you’re a fan of blues-rock, this one’s definitely for you. The music rips and runs for more than an hour, and you’ll never get bored. Highly recommended.
Reviewer’s note: If you’re unfamiliar with Walter’s long brush with death and amazing recovery, wife Marie, who’s both a PhD and his manager, has documented the battle in her book, The Blues: Why It Still Hurts So Good. All proceeds from it are targeted for a great cause: the Blues Music Foundation’s HART Fund, which provides financial assistance to musicians in need for everything from health and dental care to funeral expenses. And she’s doing the same with her latest book, Blues: Why It Hurts So Good.