Steve Lukather - 'Transition'

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Steve Lukather - 'Transition'

A well-written, played and produced album with some spellbinding guitar and a few well-crafted hooks.

Guitarist Steve Lukather made his name firstly as a ‘go to’ session guitarist and then with his own band Toto, which over the years has given the workaholic plenty of time for other collaborations in various musical genres and half a dozen solo albums. The five times Grammy winner has recently lamented the fact that there isn’t really a need for session players anymore, and with the latest incarnation of Toto playing sporadic mini-tours and having no real interest in recording, it’s not really surprising that his solo CD’s are appearing with an increasing regularity. ‘Transition’ is a collaboration with long-time friend and keyboard player C.J. Vanston, with touring band members Eric Valentine (drums), Renee Jones (bass) and Steve Weingart (keys) also joined by some cameos from the likes of Phil Collen, Gregg Bissonette, Tal Wilkenfeld, Chad Smith and Toto bassists Lee Sklar and Nathan East.

As the name suggests, ‘Transition’ sees Luke coming out of a dark period in his life and the divorce, death and drink subjects that fuelled his previous two angst-ridden releases, with a possible downside being that his new found peace has resulted in a far more laid-back album. There’s more of a jazzy westcoast vibe to the material and nothing really rocks out, but Steve and co. are far too talented to ever release a sub-par album. Atmospheric intros and dreamy verses are the order of the day, sometimes kicking into a big memorable chorus like the highlights ‘Judgement Day’, ‘Right The Wrong’ and ‘Do I Stand Alone’. What hasn’t changed too much is that everything has sublime guitar and keyboard work all over it and Lukather’s distinctive voice can more than carry a tune, with his blues influences coming through on the catchy ‘Creep Motel’ and the more sedate ‘Rest Of The World’.

‘Once Again’ is a great example of the Lukather ballad and would probably have been on a Toto album had they been in the market for recording one, and similarly the Jeff Porcaro-like groove and ‘Falling In Between’-style guitar chords of ‘Last Man Standing’ successfully match the old and new Toto, and you can’t really get away from those comparisons. Probably the bravest and most odd track is ‘Transition’ itself, which spends most of its running time seeming like an instrumental with a gentle Jeff Beck-influenced beginning and staccato progressive metal parts amongst its frequently changing landscape, only for it to have a short vocal part three-quarters in before returning to the original theme. Beck also rears his head on the subtle interpretation of the old classic ‘Smile’ that brings this album to a close.

‘Transition’ isn’t your usual Steve Lukather rock album like ‘Ever Changing Times’ and ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’ were, it’s far lighter than those, but it is a well-written, played and produced album with some spellbinding guitar and a few well-crafted hooks.

Phil Ashcroft

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