Blitzen Trapper – Wild and Reckless

Album Review | Universal Music Group | Review by Damian Liptrot | Stars: 3/5

Wild and Reckless is the album that grew out of a musical/rock opera that Blitzen Trapper performed over a period of months at a theatre in their home town of Portland, Oregon.  An everyday dystopian tale of a bad boy turned cop then gone rogue, 13 year old killer girls, street sirens in black Trans-Ams – you know the sort of thing.  However, as main Trapper, Eric Earley asserts, in the end, it’s all about the music.  For those of you, who like me, were unfamiliar with their oeuvre, a quick glance at the online information sets the pulse racing, with a potted history of their 15+ year, 9 album career that promises experimental country/folk/rock with a Sub Pop past and comparisons the likes of Flaming Lips, Wilco and Calexico littering the pages.  What followed took a sideways step from the above, yet in an interesting, unexpected and ultimately quite satisfying manner.  Jumping straight past the opening track to the title track (a quirk that resurfaced on several machines), rather than a quirky melange of looped sounds and spikey guitars, what emerged was the sound of peak period Dylan (Blood On The Tracks, Desire, if you feel the need to ask) married to the dynamics and phrasing of top form Bruce (Born To Run, through The River, of course).  Now we are all familiar with the concept of superstars singing each other’s songs but trust me, this was eminently more interesting that the Boss knocking out “Blowing in the Wind” or His Bobness giving us his take on “Thunder Road”, as in my experience, such tributes are always a disappointment and Bob would probably deconstruct it into a reggae style, just because he can.  As you would expect, all this was excellent preparation for the short following track, “Forever Pt 1”, which is the largely instrumental missing link between “The Great Gig in the Sky” and the intro to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, with occasional Hawkwind type bubblings below.  And that, my friends, sets the scene for the album, there’s more of the Bob/Bruce collaboration, with drop-ins from the likes of Bob Seger, Tom Petty and whisper it quietly, Bryan Adams.  There’s a nod to Slow Train Coming and of course the muscular reference to the “Black Trans Am” is another comeback for The Boss.  There’s also the promised experimentation, with sampled speech that hints at the futurama leanings of Yoshimi versus the Pink Robots and the found sounds of Primal Scream at their finest (Screamadelica. if you need to ask).  The whole experience was like meeting a new friend and finding they share much of your CD collection.  A transfer to a player that loves the whole of the disc enough to play it through, reveals that the title track is a whole short story in a song, that sets up the whole of the concept within the album, although the collection stands alone as a set of songs rather than having to focus on the links between them.  An unexpectedly enjoyable experience and one that will be repeated.  Sadly, their April 2018 UK tour takes in only 3 venues but there is much back catalogue to be explored.  It’s all out there on the likes of Deezer and Spotify, so you can try before you buy.  Give them a chance, I’m glad I did.