Personnel: Walter Trout (vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica); Walter Trout; Jeff Healey (vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano); Guitar Shorty, Bernard Allison (vocals, guitar); Eric Sardinas (vocals, acoustic guitar); James Harman (vocals, harmonica); Finis Tasby (vocals); Junior Watson (guitar); Rob Rio, Daniel Timms (piano); Al Webster, Richie Hayward, Bill Bateman, Stephen Hodges (drums); John Mayall (vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano); Coco Montoya, Joe Bonamassa (vocals, guitar).
Audio Mixer: Eric Corne.
Recording information: Liquid Toronto, Canada (01/21/2006-03/08/2006); Mad Dog Studios, Burbank, CA (01/21/2006-03/08/2006).
Author: Marie Trout.
Photographers: Marie Trout; Gary E. Smith; Neil Zlozower.
In his mid-fifties at the time of this album's release in 2006, Walter Trout seemed to be in a reflective mood. His 2005 album was a collection of older, previously unreleased tracks from various stages in his extensive career. This follow-up finds him reconnecting with many artists he has worked with, laying down newly recorded originals. In fact, this is Trout's first studio recorded disc of fresh material since 2001's Go the Distance. As the Full Circle title implies, the guitarist rounds up some musicians/friends he has played with for a spontaneous set of performances. The liner notes explain that some of these tracks were unrehearsed first takes, and the heightened energy level throughout reflects that. Also impressive is that Trout was eye-to-eye with each artist, as opposed to projects where guests lay down solos at various times in different cities and never see each other. The disc kicks off in fine, heated form with John Mayall sharing vocals and guitar and adding harmonica to a fiery eight-minute slow blues workout "She Takes More Than She Gives." Trout restrains -- slightly -- his propensity to pummel more notes per minute than the next guy, infusing greater passion into his playing as evidenced by the swampy blues-rock of "Workin' Overtime," featuring Jeff Healey. Fellow fret shredders of his genre such as Bernard Allison, Coco Montoya, and especially Joe Bonamassa add predictable firepower with their contributions and seem to spur Trout to new heights. In this heavy company, it's refreshing to hear him shift into a jazzier mood with Junior Watson on "Slap Happy" and even go acoustic on "Firehouse Mama," where he trades hyperactive riffs with neighbor Eric Sardinas. Harp master/vocalist James Harman (who, with his burly face and long white beard looks more like Moses everyday) and organist Deacon Jones bring comparative subtlety to the proceedings and alter the groove to a less frenzied attack than when Trout is trading licks with his guitar buddies. Guitar Shorty, Little Feat drummer Richard Hayward, and noted DJ Larry Keene -- whose articulated fast talking can be compared to Trout's own style on guitar -- also appear, the latter for a spoken word title cut finale that could have been left on the cutting room floor. Deep blues fans will still probably shy away due to the album's guitar heavy appeal and Trout's tendency to overextend his furious solos. But for the blues-rocker who loves a rugged blast of electricity and barrages of notes played with no-frills intensity, this is arguably Trout's most listenable, impressive, and diverse album yet. ~ Hal Horowitz