"No Substitutions: Live in Osaka" (Favored Nations; 2001)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Any guitar player worth his salt knows who Steve Lukather is, and most should know who Larry Carlton is as well. Carlton may not be as well known as Lukather, but Carlton has played on over five hundred albums in the 70s and 80s and was best known for his work with Steely Dan.

Carlton released a few solo albums during the 90s and most were met with critical acclaim. Lukather met Carlton twenty-five years earlier and asked Steve to play on tour with him and the rest is history. Since I value the incredible talent that Lukather has, I just had to check out Carlton’s discography and ... you name ' em, he’s played with ' em. Carlton has a jazz and fusion style but he can also rip like nobody's business.

Sometimes, I shy away from live recordings because -- even though the energy is captured on disc -- I most often feel left out of the crowd. With "No Substitutions," however ( if listened to in the right atmosphere), that atmosphere an be recreated. 

A little brew, dimmed lights and an uninterrupted evening with the significant other is all the ambiance you'll need. The guitar here is incredible (as you might expect). I used to cringe at the jazz sound but, after asking a few questions about what made it so popular, each answer held the further truth that music does more talking than a vocalist ever could. I’m starting to appreciate a different direction in the jazz/fusion folder these days. There are a few times during the disc that were a little too light for me but it was all entertaining anyway. 

Performing on "No Substitutions" are: Larry Carlton – guitar ( left side); Steve Lukather – guitar ( right side); Gregg Bissonette – drums; Chris Kent – bass; Rick Jackson – keyboards.

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"Luke" (Sony; 1997)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Steve Lukather was best known for his stint with Toto. Before that, he was a session guitar player who penned many musical scores for commercials on TV and radio. He appeared on over 100 albums for artists such as Alice Cooper and Cheap Trick during the 70s. Having such talent and confidence at the age of 20, he was asked to join Toto and they enjoyed great commercial success during the 80s.

Steve parted ways with Toto after “Toto IV” was released and issued his own string of solo albums. “Luke” was third in a line of solo releases during the 90s. Steve sings on all the tracks and has a pretty good voice to boot. The guitar is excellent and, as you listen to the solos, you know why he is a top session player. You will no doubt be rewinding some of his guitar bursts just to get the feel of his talent.

After a few spins I heard hints of King’s X coming out of the speakers ... and I love King’s X! A couple of tracks have a country feel to them. Of course, this is the talent of Lukather; he can play rock, pop, country, jazz and more. Speaking of jazz, Steve is a huge fan of Jeff Beck and dedicates a song to him entitled “Pump,” and you would not know the difference between the two after listening to this song.

Lukather also covers Stephen Stills “Bluebird” from Stephens' “Dance With Your Ghost” released in 1995. (Of course, there is a ton more mustard on Lukather’s version.)

Performing on "Luke" are: Steve Lukather – guitars and vocals; Gregg Bissonette – drums; John Pierce – bass; and a whole lot of other people.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright © 2007 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 28 Nov 2021 13:23:28 -0500 .