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Walter Trout - Common Ground

Provogue Records

12 tracks; 63:04 minutes; Suggested

Style: Blues-Rock

Walter Trout is a monster! People have known that for years, but on the chance a reader is unfamiliar with Trout, let me repeat, he’s a monster. Walter Trout will also raise the disdain of Blues purists quicker than another spam e-mail about properly fitting bra’s. Those who hated Jimi Hendrix for being too loud may not like Trout any better. With sarcastic irony, Trout has sold T-Shirts at concerts that say on the back “Walter Trout: Too Many Notes -- Too loud”.

Playing with just his hands and no foot pedals for special effects, here is a man whose guitar is as close to an artificial appendage as a wooden leg, He has played his same guitar every day for over thirty five years to the point where it is wired directly to his brain. Here is a man whose emotions are legendary; no one plays (or writes songs) with more heart felt and gut wrenching emotion or intensity. Here is a man whose social conscience, faith, and humanitarianism can charge some of his lyrics to way higher levels than the standard Blues conventions, “love” and “money.”

For example, check out the title track “Common Ground”, which sums up my personal feelings perfectly. “I look all around and what do I see / Pain and anger everywhere / and so much hatred, fear and misery / ...The distance that’s between us grows greater everyday / ... We need to come together, put away our earthly pride / ... If there’s a place where truth can still be found / Lord, lead us to the Common Ground....”

Trout has excelled in meeting my challenge: “Recording artists one and all, try to include at least one relevant topic song (beyond “love and money”) on each new CD.” I issued that under the influence of Australian Bluesman Sugarcane Collins who had told me, “ my opinion, we have an art form lacking edge and lacking relevance. Where are the songs that reflect other current concerns? How often do we need to hear about ‘I love my baby but my baby don’t love me?’ ... that line ... sums up the lyric content of most Blues records.”
For sure, there are some “love and money” songs on Trout’s CD, but more numbers with weight include: “Loaded Gun” sardonically singing, “...Madness and anger fill your soul / ... You find salvation / In a cocked and loaded gun....” Or, try “Excess Baggage’s” message, “When you carry excess baggage / You got to pay the toll.” Another warning is found in “Danger Zone” – “...I’m overwhelmed by the cruelty I see / Intolerance keeps marching on / Just using new technology / ...Some folks will cut you to the bone / They get poisoned by the madness / Here in the Danger Zone....”

Musically, There’s plenty of his patented rip-snorting guitar, but Trout seems tamer than he did, for example, on 2000’s “Live Trout.” The two opening tracks, “May Be a Fool” and “Open Book” begin with acoustic guitars. Trout also adds harmonica to track one. Then, reminding us he is Walter Trout, electric guitar joins the wooden box by song’s end, and we are treated to Trout’s deft string bending. Track two stays more ballad-mellow all the way through.

If you are new to Trout but wanting to go fishing, 2005’s retrospective “Deep Trout” (his greatest hits 1991-1995) would be a good place to start. Personally, I would start with “Live Trout” recorded at the Tampa Bay Blues Festival March 2000. For catching up completely and enjoying a conscience massaging moment or two, “Common Ground” is his essence.

Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and longtime Blues Blast Magazine contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at in Kankakee, IL.

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