If Walter Trout had never launched a solo career, the veteran blues-rocker still would have had a résumé to be proud of. Playing guitar as a sideman for the likes of John Lee Hooker, Percy Mayfield, Big Mama Thornton, Louisiana Red, and soul man Joe Tex is nothing to be ashamed of; nor is his stint with Canned Heat. But thankfully, Trout did launch a solo career in the late '80s -- and in the '90s, European blues audiences came to know the New Jersey native for his singing and his original material (as opposed to strictly playing guitar in support of others). Trout eventually broke as a solo artist in the U.S. as well, but Europe was where he first achieved recognition for his solo talents. Assembled in 2005, this Ruf release looks back on the early years of his solo career. Most of this CD focuses on previously released material from 1989-1997, but Deep Trout also contains a bonus track that goes back to 1972: a recording of Junior Wells' "So Sad to Be Lonely." Trout, who turned 54 on March 6, 2005, was around 21 when "So Sad to Be Lonely" was recorded -- and the recording finds him leading a blues-rock band called Wilmont Mews (who played around New Jersey). But again, most of Deep Trout is devoted to his solo work from 1989-1997 -- and the CD offers some of the highlights of his albums Breakin' the Rules, Prisoner of a Dream, Transition, and Live: No More Fish Jokes. Ruf's choices are good ones; everything on this disc is at least solid, if not flat-out excellent -- and the company has assembled a respectable overview of Trout's pre-2000s output.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson