From sideman, to band member, to band leader, Walter Trout has contributed to three generations of blues music. Five decades removed from his humble beginnings, he still plays and sings with an energy and fervor that belie his age. He writes with a wisdom that reflects the honesty of the life that he has lived. Trout speaks of life, death, and love over a range of musical styles unattainable for most. Out of a list of songs as long as his career, Blues Rock Review selects his ten best.
10. “Marie’s Mood”
An instrumental first heard off his self-titled album, “Marie’s Mood” showcases Trout’s ability to tell a story without uttering a word. The composition shifts from feeling to feeling with more than a few musical twists for good measure. His crying guitar is reminiscent of Santana’s best work.
9. “Playin’ Hideaway”
Driving and pulsing, the direct, opening guitar riff sets the tone for the tune. Interspersed with curt guitar licks and fueled by Trout’s gruff vocal delivery, this straightforward song entices listeners to hit the repeat button. With help from a spacious chorus of “Whoah…ooh, ooh,” he knows what you’re up to—”You’re playin’ hideaway. You want to hideaway, baby.”
8. “Blues For My Baby”
Trout’s explosive sound and throat-punishing vocal delivery can sometimes mask his mastery of the blues fundamentals. Slow, reserved, and classic in the right way, this number should make a believer of anyone who doubts Trout’s dedication to his craft. The clean, crisp playing makes for a great listen, and also a study in technique for aspiring bluesmen.
7. “Prisoner of A Dream”
Trout fittingly closes his Livin’ Every Day album with this cautionary tale of how not to live one’s life—”as a prisoner of a dream.” A great groove affords plenty of room for instrumental exploration, and he makes expert use of it. The studio version is a great place to start, but the live stage is where this song really comes to life.
6. “The Sky Is Fallin’ Down”
Gritty and foreboding, both in sound and in lyrics, listeners should have a good idea of what they are in for after one pass through the main riff. The slide-breakdown in the middle of the song is pure and dirty at the same time. “Now we’re all gonna die, ‘cause the sky is fallin’ down. Say bye bye”
5. “Blues For The Modern Daze”
This song starts as a dejected acoustic lament about the ills of modern society but becomes an angry recrimination. What follows is an impassioned electric outburst, replete with a rich, liquid-sounding solo worthy of several listens.
4. “Life In The Jungle”
One of Trout’s first gems, this streetwise narrative from 1988 makes its debut on John Mayall’s John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, but it has appeared on many records since. No matter the band, the tempo, or whether acoustic or electric, the core riff shines through as listeners get an early look at the world as seen through the eyes of Walter Trout.
3. “Pray For Rain”
Finger picked and sung soulfully, “Pray For Rain” is just that—a prayer for rain. It’s a rare songwriter that can create a song so resonant that it feels like they reached back in time and stole it from the past. This might be his song that endures—it already sounds a hundred years old.
2. “Almost Gone”
“Almost Gone” is frighteningly autobiographical. With absolutely no punches pulled, Trout reflects upon his brush with death, while at the same creating music that can only be described as triumphant. From the buzzy opening guitar line to the closing guitar flourish, the optimistic tone never wavers. The lyrics and the music are completely at odds, yet it’s one of his very best efforts.
1. “Gotta Leave This Town”
If you’ve been living under a rock and have never heard of Walter Trout, the Hardcore version of this song might be the best place to start. Featuring him near his best vocally, instrumentally, and lyrically, it captures his prodigious talent and his ability to lose himself in the music. Like its author, “Gotta Leave This Town” is raw, real, expansive, and always a great listen.