Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Best Music You Haven't Heard (Yet) - Steve Lukather

This post has been bouncing around in my head for awhile. Reason being that it's sort of like trying to buy a Christmas present for a millionaire: what exactly would you get them that they don't already have? Similarly, what in the world can I say about Steve Lukather that hasn't already been said?

I could go on and on about the accolades, the hits, or the thousands of albums he's been a part of (including the most successful record release in all of music history). But plenty of people have already been over all of that stuff time and again, and I'd rather spend my time convincing you to listen to one of the most underrated masters in all of music.

To say that Luke is a great guitar player is sort of like saying Notre Dame is an impressive piece of architecture. To say that Luke is one of the greatest rock guitar players ever to live is probably a little bit more on point. But what separates him from the rest of the pack is his stature as a complete artist - guitarist, songwriter, singer, band member - and not just a one-note banjo. There are quite a few guitar hero types running around these days, and just about all of them are worthy of the reputations they've constructed over the years. Lukather, however, to me, stands in a category all his own due to his ability to make music, and not just Guitarmaggeddon.

Don't get me wrong - Luke can shred with the nastiest of 'em and does, from time to time. But he also knows how to disappear on a track and vibe. He knows how to play without ego and in a completely accessible way so that even the most unmusical amongst us will be able to appreciate his artistry.

Because Lukather's guts are in his songs, and he has penned quite a few great ones in his time. His mastery of the art has allowed him to carve his niche into all kinds of different genres - not just rock, but blues, jazz, and pop. As a member of Toto, he's been a part of some of the greatest classic rock songs of all time as well as a multitude more of largely unrecognized gems. As a session player, he's played some of the most familiar guitar parts in pop music history. And, as a solo artist, he's shown an affinity for delving into all kinds of different nuances and subtleties within rock music.

Candyman is a beautiful (and jaw-dropping) fusion of rock, blues, and jazz. Luke  saw him strip things back to a vibe more reminiscent of a garage band: not as many frills, more straight-ahead. His more recent releases, Ever Changing Times and All's Well That Ends Well have showcased even more of his fantastic ability to blend different genres into the fold of rock 'n' roll, all with melodic, groovy, humorous, heartrending, and, at all times, monstrously musical form.

What Lukather's releases proclaim, perhaps more than anything else, is what can happen when a master musician makes the music he wants to make without concern for radio, hit songwriting, or the games that labels play. It truly is a wondrous experience for listeners - this is definitely music that demands your attention. If you love rock 'n' roll that you can sing, feel, and be absolutely & totally blown away by, do yourself a favor and dig into Steve Lukather. You will not be disappointed.

Lukather with Toto in 2003

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