Review: Transition - Steve Lukather

by Andy Snipper

The Beatles first show on Ed Sulivan back in the early sixties kick started the musical careers of, literally, hundreds of musicians. One of those was the 7 year old Steve Lukather and this, his 7th solo album, suggests that his young eyes and ears were pointed in the right direction.

Lukather has had a stellar career that includes his work with Toto as well as sessions with the likes of Van Halen, Alice Cooper, Whitney Houston and Rod Stewart – oh, he also played guitar on MJ’s Thriller!

In terms of his playing skills there are very few guitarists who come close – Joe Satriani maybe, Steve Vai, Jeff Beck possibly – and he is a remarkably flexible player, able to turn his hands to pretty well anything.
But. He has been through the mill in the last few years and this album is designed as showing his transition from the then to the now. He lost his mother and had various problems with business and he, one of the hardest working players around, actually lost his love of the music for a time. This album is the indicator that Steve Lukather is back ion harness and making the music he loves again.

Transition is a turning point for the album and a turning point for me,” Lukather explains. “As we were writing the songs, I was thinking about everything I’ve seen — all the people I’ve lost in my life, the great and the difficult experiences I’ve had, and how ultimately it was time to get it together and embrace things for what they are. We’ve only got one life to live so we should make the most of it.”

The album is actually pretty fine. There is some superb playing and his songwriting is powerful and emotive. He has said in the past that he likes light and shade in the albums that he listens to and there are plenty of depths here as well as a very open feel to the playing and the song Transition shows that he has a great sense of pace and power. His guitar playing is great – a million miles away from the widdlers and shredders.
Unfortunately the production sounds dated – heavy drum sounds, right out of the eighties – and that tempers my enjoyment of it all.

There are some moments on the album that are sublime and there is no question that when he is good he is so much better than the rest – it is just that, as a whole, it doesn’t crackle or fizz and for me the problem is with the drumming and the production.

Definitely one that I will turn back to for the best moments but not the best thing I have heard from Mr Lukather.


Anonymous said...

While I agree with most of your review, what kind of drumming did you want Steve to use?

Also, while a Steve freak myself, I think perhaps Jeff Beck definitely does come close in playing ability, it's probably some of his wacky compositions that don't.

Steve Vai is too widdly, widdly and Satch is very melodic
but doesn't have the diversity in song writing that Steve excels at.

I'm disappointed there aren't more songs like Judgement Day and Creep Motel, but I'm beginning to open up to Steve's many shades of pure talent.

Anonymous said...

I understand the drumming comment but disagree and don't care. Steve Lukather is a national fact an international treasure....we are lucky he still makes us music...if you listen to this album about a half dozen times... the full set will mingle in your mind for days...there are some great grooving tunes here as well as some complex jazz infused works (transition)...that very thoughtful, deep, and he really spaces out the instrumentation well....just a true pro who cares and is always thanking his fans..and is always a favorite mention by other artists..

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