I don’t really know what to say about this one. It’s just a good, old-fashioned jam by a couple of great guitarists. To no one’s surprise, they’re both up to the task. The five songs here cover almost an hour that’s never boring and showcases the different talents of Carlton, who definitely is concentrating on his jazz roots on this and other projects lately, and Lukather, who’s a rocker, almost sometimes to the point of being a little too bombastic. These two guys combined have so many chops, it’s just a joy to listen to this live album, recorded in Japan.
Things get under way with the Tony Hymas/Simon Phillips tune “The Pump.” The rocky feel of this one lets “Luke” shine. The former Toto axeman shows an agility and sense of chops that few ever reach. From there, it’s three Carlton tunes (“Don’t Give It Up,” “It Was Only Yesterday,” and “Room 335,” and Miles Davis’ classic “All Blues.” Throughout the proceedings, the old ace Carlton proves he’s still imaginative and smart a player as ever. Back to using his 335, he starts the ballad “It Was Only Yesterday” with trademark volume swells and some killer hammer-ons and dazzling runs. After a fine Lukather solo, Larry comes back with a single-line and chordal solo that is simply a tour de force. In fact, several times on the album, he calls to mind Wes Montgomery with some chord solos that are simply beautiful. It’s something he’s done in the past, but never this much on an album, and he proves he’s a master at it.
In a spoken intro, Lukather introduces Carlton as his teacher, and it’s fitting. There’s a whole generation of players who have taken his sense of melody and mixed it with his rock and roll sensibilities and blues leanings and forged a style of guitar that is forceful, physical, and muscular, but at the same time melodic and beautiful. It’s easy to spot his mark on Lukather here. Put these two great players with these great songs, and a band that includes Gregg Bissonette on drums, Chris Kent on bass and Rick Jackson on keyboards and you’ve got the perfect live record. Highly recommended.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s July ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.