PAT TRAVERS is a guitar hero that doesn't get mentioned enough in conversations about the great axe-swingers who came of age in the 1970s. The Toronto-born TRAVERS made some sizzling hard rock with albums like 1978's "Heat in the Street", 1979's smash hit "Live! Go for what you Know" (hence, the new live album's title), 1980's "Crash and Burn", and 1984's "Hot Shot". His trademark wailing solos and thick, meaty riffs bled southern hard rock and hot blues, while the racket he produced on stage rivaled that of TED NUGENT's mammoth '70s performances. What makes "Stick with What You Know: Live in Europe" such a fun live album is that TRAVERS hasn't lost a step in either his playing or his vocals, the sound mix is excellent (that guitar tone rules), and the energy live is high as hell.
More than anything else, "Stick with What You Know: Live in Europe" reminds us why so many still worship the '70s guitar gods and how they played integral roles in recording such raging and memorable live albums. There was something about the raw energy and jam-session spontaneity of those discs that just killed. That's not to say that "Stick with What You Know" is another "Double Live Gonzo" or "Strangers in the Night", only that it is the kind of live album that is a rarity in the 21st century: one worthy of repeat listens.
TRAVERS (guitar, slide guitar, vocals) and his support band of Eric Frates (drums/backing vocals), Kirk McKim (guitar/backing vocals), and Frank McDaniel (bass/backing vocals) is on fire here. Most won't be surprised to hear classics like "Life in London", "Heat in the Street", "Crash and Burn", the always raucous party anthem "Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)", and FM radio smash and all-around riff monster "Snortin' Whiskey", but the set also includes several blues covers beyond the standards. "I Don't Care" from the 2004 TRAVERS & APPICE album "It Takes A lot of Balls" is also included and rivals some of Pat's vintage '70s work. It is not surprising to hear TRAVERS' lengthy rendition of blues classic "Born Under a Bad Sign" (also on "Crash and Burn"), but "Red House" (JIMI HENDRIX), "Oh Pretty Woman" (ALBERT KING), and "If I Had Possession over Judgment Day" (ROBERT JOHNSON) are also included.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is the inclusion of "PT Nutz aka Linus and Lucy", otherwise recognized as VINCE GUARALDI's Peanuts theme. Rather than sounding awkward or goofy, the results are engagingly electric.
While it would have been nice to hear other classics from the back catalogue (e.g. "Killer" from "Hot Shot") some credit is due to TRAVERS for mixing it up and not sticking exclusively to a "Greatest Hits Live" package. Instead of playing it safe, he takes some calculated chances with mostly grand results. "Stick with What You Know: Live in Europe" is highly recommended to any fan of loud, blues-drenched, guitar rock. TRAVERS is one of the greats and this live disc is a good opportunity for a new generation to discover him.