Toto legend, Steve Lukather, has brought his deft touch to many albums over the years (in addition to his continued allegiance to Toto) including his lesser-known contributions to some remarkable ‘tribute’ albums: he played brilliantly on a Beatles, Zeppelin, the Mahavishnu Orchestra plus he brought respectability to Christmas music on Merry Axemas Vol 2…I must also note a spectacular contribution to Lee Ritenour’s 6 String Theory release of 2010.
So I was seriously looking forward to his last release, I Found The Sun Again, which came out on the Mascot Group Label in February. Across eight tracks (five original, three covers) he unleashes the wizardry we know and love, ably abetted by some serious talent: how about this for a lineup? Drummer Greg Bissonette, keyboardist Jeff Babko, and bassists Jorgen Carlsson and John Pierce, Toto band-mate David Paich performs piano and organ across the album, while Joseph Williams sang on multiple tracks and, on the track Run To Me, Ringo Starr makes a special appearance; repaying Steve’s membership of his All Starr Band.
The recording was very honest too; in Steve’s words, “ALL these tracks were cut LIVE – no clix – no fix – No rehearsal – one run thru – and record and the whole record was take 2. I did double a few guitar parts and ‘produced up’ a few tunes that are obvious but in the same time frame. I wanted to make as honest a record as I could in 2020 with 1970’s inspiration, and recording values, and techniques with a modern sound.”
So, what of the music: well the first track is descriptive as we join him on Along For The Ride: class, simple riff and a nice slice of melodic rock with, after a very Who keyboard section, we get a carefully crafted and executed guitar solo.
Serpent Soul is very different and very lovely as we get a jazzy, funky bluesy hybrid that has it all…clever drum patterns, genius bass, piano and Beatle(fish) vocals. Add in an inventive guitar solo with piano alternating and it all gels.
Next up is a cover of Traffic’s The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys; the jazz lounge start leads to a blues laden section with washes of organ and lovely guitar work…suffice it to say, I think Messrs Capaldi and Winwood would approve.
Journey Through has a Jeff Beck styled feel as the volume control and tremolo makes the guitar speak; a delicious instrumental. Joe Walsh is treated to a faithful yet fresh and slightly rockier version of his Welcome To The Club song. Sorry, Joe…I like this a little bit better! The title track has a gentle intro as the vocals add a tiny hint of soul to a worthy message. It threatens to become repetitive until a superlative solo lifts it to another level.
The penultimate track, Run To Me (with Ringo guesting) is a sort of Liverpool in the 60s revised but with heavier, fuzzier guitars and it shouldn’t work…but it does: the late Gerry Marsden would certainly approve.
Bridge of Sighs, closes out the album, by another guitar great, Robin Trower – is always in danger of falling short of Jimmy Dewar’s voice and Trower’s distinctive touch…but, in Steve’s hands he actually pulls it off by making his mark but showing only the deepest respect. The organ solo does work and the guitar solo cleverly plays with Trower’s instinctive melodies and phrasing…it’s good, very good.
In summary, if you like guitar played with feeling, expression, skill and a deep understanding then you will love this album…if you aren’t bothered by guitar skills, then this is just a bloody good album of quality rock music.
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws – A Wonderful album from one of the finest exponents of sensible, communicative guitar playing delivering quality without unnecessary histrionics.
1. Along For The Ride
2. Serpent Soul
3. The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys (Traffic)
4. Journey Through
5. Welcome To The Club (Joe Walsh)
6. I Found The Sun Again
7. Run To Me
8. Bridge Of Sighs (Robin Trower)
Steve Lukather: guitar, vocals
Greg Bissonette: drums
Jeff Babko: keyboards
Jorgen Carlsson and John Pierce: bass
David Paich: piano, organ
Joseph Williams: vocals, string and horn arrangements
Special guest: Ringo Starr
(The iTunes run on track delivered another guitar genius: Steve Morse and one of his solo albums, the ridiculously brilliant High Tension Wires.)