I've been delaying writing about these three recordings until the last release date had passed. Leslie West's latest solo album came out November 20; so, here we go with a column that also includes the latest music from Walter Trout and Joe Louis Walker.
'Soundcheck,' Leslie West (Provogue/Mascot Label Group, HHHH 1/2)
This Nov. 20 CD/vinyl release is the 16th solo album from guitar hero Leslie West; and, he seems on the way to recovery from his diabetes-related lower right leg amputation after a Biloxi casino show in June 2011.
I love his tone-perfect guitar work with Mountain and West, Bruce & Laing (pre-punk postscripts March 9 and March 30, 2012); and this musical pie features superstar collaborators.
My favorite tunes include the rowdy "Here For The Party," an interesting minor-key version of "You Are My Sunshine," two interesting instrumentals ("A Stern Warning" dedicated to Howard Stern & bassist Rev Jones' take on The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby"), a glorious "People Get Ready," and the second Jeff Beck Group's rocker "Goin' Down" (featuring Bonnie Bramlett, original pianist Max Middleton, Queen's Brian May, organist Bobby Whitlock and bassist David Hood).
Leslie West still has that magical guitar tone; so classic rock fans will dig this one.
'Battle Scars,' Walter Trout (Provogue/Mascot Label Group, HHHH)
This Oct. 23 release features 12 original blues-based songs that narrate Walter Trout's struggles waiting for and finally receiving a liver transplant. This "concept album" is more harrowing than the one above, but guitarist/harmonicat/singer/songwriter Trout and band (keyboardist Sammy Avila, drummer Michael Leasure, new bassist Johnny Griparic and producer Eric Corne) are up to it.
"Almost Gone" sets the pre-transplant stage: Walter's body is shutting down and he can tell that others know it. A siren heralds the beginning of "Omaha," where Trout waited for his transplant while others didn't survive. My other favorites are the rocking "Playing Hideaway," the plaintive "Please Take Me Home," the spooky "Haunted By The Night" and the acoustic "Gonna Live Again."
This is a cool blues-rock album with deeper-than-usual lyrics.
'Everybody Wants A Piece,' Joe Louis Walker (Provogue/Mascot Label Group, HHHH)
This Oct. 9 release has no press release for additional information, but it's the most straightforward blues album of these three. Veteran guitarist/singer-songwriter J.L. Walker started playing at age eight and has played with John Lee Hooker, Buddy Miles, Willie Dixon, Nick Lowe, John Mayall and many others. Here, he plays blazing leads and the songs don't all rely on blues patterns.
My favorites are the incendiary title song, a lengthy organ-bolstered instrumental "Gospel Blues" and the slide-driven "35 Years."
Blues guitar and classic rock fans should dig all three of these albums.
Ricky Flake, a former punk rocker and current music fan, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.