On December 2nd, the five-time-Grammy-nominated guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd will release ‘The Trouble Is…25,’ a top-to-bottom reinterpretation of his seminal album ‘Trouble Is…,’ which struck the match that reignited modern blues upon its release 25 years ago.
And while the tracklist is almost the same, there is one outlier that fans will notice – a stirring reinterpretation of “Ballad Of A Thin Man,” which was cut from the original release in 1997. Shepherd recalls: “I wanted to do Bob Dylan’s ‘Everything Is Broken’ because I had just been on tour with him and he was so good to me and such an inspiration. Our producer, Jerry Harrison, had suggested another Dylan song, ‘Ballad Of A Thin Man.’ But I was concerned that might be too much of a step outside the box for the fanbase, and ‘Everything Is Broken’ was closer to an actual blues song. Jerry was fighting hard for ‘Ballad Of A Thin Man’ so we butted heads, had a miniature battle over those songs. Ultimately, I prevailed and although we recorded ‘Ballad Of A Thin Man,’ it was ‘Everything Is Broken’ that went on the record. But what’s really cool is that for this new recording of ‘Trouble Is…,’ we went in and very faithfully re-recreated that version of ‘Ballad Of A Thin Man’ from 1997, and included it on this boxset.”
‘Trouble Is…25,’ a top-to-bottom reinterpretation of his seminal album ‘Trouble Is…,’ which struck the match that reignited modern blues upon its release 25 years ago. Slated for release on 2 Dec via Provogue Records/Mascot Label Group, the album (which includes a bonus track of an unreleased version of Ballad of a Thin Man) will be accompanied by a live DVD filmed at The Strand Theatre in Shepherd’s hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, shot at the launch of his year-long celebration of the 25th anniversary of ‘Trouble Is…,’ which found the band performing the album, in its entirety, across the US. Shepherd has released a lyric video for “True Lies,” which he describes as “the classic infidelity song.” Watch the video here.
“One of the coolest things about re-recording ‘Trouble Is…’ has been finding out – or verifying – how timeless this album really is,” says Shepherd, who is also leading a triumphant anniversary tour performing the album in full. “I’m so proud of what we accomplished, and also the fact I was just 18 years old when I did it. I mean, I had an experience with this album that most musicians can only dream about. ‘Trouble Is…’ sold millions of copies. There’s validation in all of that for me.”
Having pricked up ears with 1995’s sparky debut ‘Ledbetter Heights,’ ‘Trouble Is…’ hurled Shepherd headlong into contention. These were songs and performances that shouldn’t have been feasible for a teenager barely out of the classroom. Yet, the bandleader was already standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a veteran studio band that included the iconic Double Trouble lineup (drummer Chris Layton, bassist Tommy Shannon and keys man Reese Wynans).
And while he had yet to find his own singing voice (then, as now, Noah Hunt handles powerhouse lead vocals on ‘Trouble Is…), Shepherd’s precocious guitar work was in a different class to the fading grunge scene. One moment white-hot on originals like Slow Ride or the title instrumental, the next rivalling Jimi Hendrix himself on a wiry cover of “I Don’t Live Today.”
“I didn’t want ‘Trouble Is…25’ to be a surgical process. I don’t like to overthink things. I just wanted to go in and capture the vibe. There were a couple of ways we could have approached this new recording. We could have done a one-hundred-per-cent faithful reproduction. But we chose a complete reinterpretation,” he adds.
“During the ‘Trouble Is…’ anniversary tour,” says Shepherd, “everybody was commenting on how this album could be released today and still be just as relevant as it was 25 years ago. Making this album in 1997 was just a really monumental achievement. The new recording was a serious trip down memory lane for me. And I’m still so proud of these songs.”