Now as you know, I am a big fan of Walter Trout and his music. And, as you all also know, he is a survivor of liver cancer after he had to have a transplant of his liver as it had developed cirrhosis. So, it is very apt that his latest offering is called Survivor Blues. Now this is an album of blues covers BUT not the usual suspects. instead he goes back to cover more obscure Chicago blues by artists such as Jimmy Dawkins, Sunnyland Slim and Hound Dog Taylor. The album starts off with Jimmy Dawkins’ ‘Me, My Guitar and The Blues’. A lovely 7-minute long slow blues with Walter's lyrical guitar on top of piano and organ (from Skip Edwards) and the rhythm section of drummer Michael Leasure and bassist Johnny Griparic. Next up it is Sunnyland Slim's "Be Careful How You Vote" an Elmore James-style rocker with Walter belting out the vocals. On Luther Johnson’s “Women Don’t Lie” Sugaray Rayford helps out on the vocals – and what a great job he does. Next up is a very laid-back blues tune with Hound Dog Taylor’s “Sadie”. The track really comes to life with Walter's explosive guitar solo. After that, we keep the pace up with "Please Love Me" – co-written by BB King and Jules Taub. It then winds down again for a jazzy number from his old mentor John Mayall with “Nature Disappearing".
The most rocky track on the album is Floyd Lee’s "Red Sun" (Floyd is best known for his composition Knock On Wood). Next is another powerhouse slow blues that emphasises Walter’s scorching guitar and vocals, originally done by Elmore James, called “Something Inside Of Me". We follow that with Otis Rush’s "It Takes Time" with some West Side Chicago Blues and then it is “Out Of Bad Luck”, a cover of the 1966 song by Sam Maghett (aka Magic Sam) featuring that trademark melody. With “Going Down to the River” we get a bit of country-blues, with this lovely laid-back song from Fred McDowell, which features Robby Krieger (formerly of the Doors) on slide guitar. The album closes with a version of J.B. Lenoir’s “God’s Word" which builds to a screaming climax with Walter’s awesome lead guitar work.
An excellent album for all us Chicago Blues nerds but with plenty of variation and guitar work to satisfy the modern Blues-Rockers out there.