Personnel: Walter Trout (vocals, guitar); Michael Leasure, Richie Hayward, Frank Cotinola (drums).
Audio Mixer: Eric Corne.
Liner Note Author: Walter Trout.
Recording information: BBC Maida Vale Studios, London, England (??/??/1989-03/03/2009); Bonn Blues Festival, Bonn, Germany (??/??/1989-03/03/2009); House Of Blues Recorders, Los Angeles, CA (??/??/1989-03/03/2009); Leverkusen Blues Festival (??/??/1989-03/03/2009); Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (??/??/1989-03/03/2009); Perq's Niteclub, Huntington Beach (??/??/1989-03/03/2009); The Railhead, Boulder Station Casino, Las Vegas, NV (??/??/1989-03/03/2009).
Walter Trout has always been a blues man with rock & roll on his mind first and foremost. Though showy and loud, Trout keeps on the path of least resistance for an audience that wonders what Stevie Ray Vaughan, Luther Allison, Albert Collins, or Jimi Hendrix would sound like were they still alive. Still, Trout has carved out a career and a living playing music that definitely gets people out of their seats and raving for more. This collection -- correctly subtitled "Twenty Years of Hardcore Blues" -- has Trout picking favorites from various live performances recorded over the years by the BBC and, as he puts it, were selected favoring performance over recording quality. It should be pointed out that there's absolutely nothing wrong with the sound quality of these select dates and songs, and there are a couple of studio tracks thrown in, adding to the special nature of this disc, for both fans and novices. Notable for being the last recording done with bassist Jimmy Trapp (2005 in Las Vegas,) "Sweet as a Flower" is especially poignant, a rattlesnake shaker that recalls Peter Green when he was with Fleetwood Mac, while "Two Sides to Every Story" adopts an acoustic-style slide guitar-centered slow stomp that stands apart from the other tracks. Tougher than tough is a version of the Don Nix evergreen popularized by Freddie King "Goin' Down"; there's Buddy Guy's juke joint-rockin' shuffle "She's Out There Somewhere," and the classic old-school rocker "Long Tall Sally" -- all played with great energy and good spirit. The band also covers John Mayall's "Somebody's Acting Like a Child" with stinging guitar as good as anyone's, and the Finis Tasby tune "Goin' Back Home," fairly typical, from Bonn, Germany in 1991. Trout's originals include a new studio recording of the two-chord, organ-fed rocker "They Call Us the Working Class," and live performances of the hard rock blues "Life in the Jungle" (Amsterdam, 1991) which was the title track of his first album, and the instrumental "Marie's Mood" showing a jazzier side. Sammy Avila on the Hammond B-3 organ, bassist Rick Knapp, and drummer Michael Leasure join Trout for the majority of these concert shows. While there's nothing groundbreaking here, or out of character with Trout's reputation and estimable talent, it's a solid collection of songs featuring the worked-up guitar of the leader that should appeal to the guitar hero nation without reservation. ~ Michael G. Nastos