Steve Lukather is most famous as the guitarist for the band Toto, although he has also made quite a name for himself as a studio musician, both before and after Toto by playing on Steely Dan albums and most notably Michael Jackson’s smash hit Thriller.
With Transition, Lukather takes on the role of singer/songwriter/guitar slinger. He’s not the world’s greatest vocalist, a fact that got him into a little trouble back when he took on the lead singing role with Toto not too long ago. However, he’s not too bad, either. He can hold a tune, and at his best, such as the ballad “Once Again,” his voice takes on a nicely scratchy Don Henley quality.
Lukather, the solo artist is a whole lot more socially outspoken than he and his band mates in Toto were back in the day. He seems to be out to shame bad guys in the song “Creep Motel,” while he’s a musical crusader to make the world a better place with “Right the Wrong.”
Of course, his playing is amazing throughout this album; he’s truly a gifted guitarist. He never sounds like he’s showing off either, thankfully. Instead, as any great studio player quickly learns to do, he places the perfectly appropriate guitars solos in the exact right places. And be not mistaken; this is a song album. There aren’t any jazz-fusion experiments to muddy up the process. He has a number of things to get off his chest, and he’s like a gunfighter – armed with his electric guitar and singing voice – out to tell you exactly how he feels. One of this album’s best songs is, however, an instrumental cover of “Smile,” originally written by comedian/actor Charlie Chaplin. Lukather plays it sweetly, with long Jeff Beck-like legato notes that will, well, make you smile. After all the lyrical vitriol, it’s good to have something to smile about at the end.
Key Tracks: Smile, Right the Wrong, Creep Motel
Dan MacIntosh - MuzikReviews.com Contributor
January 3, 2013