Friday, February 11, 2011

Steve Lukather: All’s Well That Ends Well Album Review


My friend Jack has spent the last month or two yammering on about Steve Lukather’s latest studio album, All’s Well That Ends Well. He thinks it is the best thing since canned beer (or bottled vodka), so I figured I had better check it out for myself.

Steve Lukather is not a household name, but he should be. He is most known for his work with Toto, but he has been working as a studio musician for the past 35 years, and has played with everybody and has had a hand in writing or playing on over 1000 albums. He is a guitar god and a rock star in every sense of the word.

All’s Well That Ends Well is Luke’s sixth studio solo album, and he gets top billing for writing all 9 tracks. He also played lead guitar and provided the lead vocals. Keyboardist CJ Vanston also gets writing and mixing credits. And one of my all-time favorites, Fee Waybill, Joined Steve again to help write a song and provide some backing vocals.

Before listening to this album I had zero experience with Luke’s solo work. Los Angeles radio is a wasteland filled with small pillars of crap, and there is no chance of hearing anything outside of the usual Bieber/Ranchera/hip-hop/Blink-182 mainstays. But I had a few ideas of what I would be getting for my $8.91.

I figured the album would be slicker than snot, and it is. Steve has been on so many albums that he knows exactly what to do in the studio. I also anticipated that the songs would be well-written, and I got that too. And lastly, I expected a guitar-fueled Vai-esque Satriani-fest. I did not get this at all.

Obviously there are some great guitar parts, but musically this album goes a lot deeper. There are rich synthesizer layers, funky bass parts and really tight percussion that goes beyond a double bass drum kit. The feel goes from poppy rock to boogie to Hendrix/Stevie Ray and even a little Steely Dan. I effing hate Steely Dan, but that is a personal problem that I need to work through.

Steve Lukather steps out lyrically too on All’s Well That Ends Well. He has had a few rough years and really poured his heart into each song. He doesn’t write the world’s most poetic lyrics, but I get the feeling that he means everything that he sings.

And to me, the album is made by these more personal songs, such as “Watching the World” and “Don’t Say It’s Over”. These slower songs are the last thing I was expecting to hear. The mood that is set by the lyrics, guitars and background instruments is very real.

”Flash in the Pan” and “You’ll Remember” provide a useful contrast to the more introspective and slower tunes. These quicker blues/rock tunes have the boogie, but still carry the darker lyrical theme that is present throughout the album.

The album ends up with “Tumescent”, an instrumental that is tight and provides a good showcase for Luke’s guitar prowess, in case you did not get enough in the rest of the album.

I liked this album well enough that I am going to dig a little deeper into his catalogue and check out more of his solo work.

So, I give All’s Well That Ends Well a big thumbs up, and recommend that you head on over to iTunes and download a copy today for $8.91. It looks like Jack was right again.


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