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Friday, Sept. 1, 2006


Walter Trout and Friends "Full Circle"

Inviting special guests onto albums is almost obligatory these days, but on his new one, "Full Circle," bluesman Walter Trout wants sizzling guitar duels rather than promo plugs. With string bending friends like John Mayall and Joe Bonamassa, the gutbucket blues explodes with dazzling licks and impassioned vocals.

These 13 straight-on tracks are all first takes with no computer touchups. The rhythm section stays the same for each track -- bass, organ and drums (from Little Feat's Richie Hayward) -- but finds fresh spontaneity with each different guest guitarist. Trout's guitar emerges from the right speaker, his guests' emerge from fill the left -- combustion is just that simple. He sounds equally fierce on jazz-blues shuffles like "Slap Happy" with Junior Watson, and meaty rockers like "Who's Listenin' In" (a nice jab at Bush's phone-tapping policy) with Coco Montoya. Acoustic slide with Eric Sardinas on "Firehouse Mama" and Guitar Shorty's early B.B. King-like vocals are special standouts.

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