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The two new solo albums from Toto’s Joseph Williams and Steve Lukather were signed in tandem, released in tandem, but recorded in completely opposing ways. Putting the two together showcases two very different sides of the Toto musical spectrum and being solo albums, it lets the listener sink into those individual realms a little longer than on an normal band record where you get a more filtered view. Luke has gone on record saying playing parts of the two records on shuffle would give fans a new Toto record and he’s not far off that truth.
Given that Joseph and Luke make multiple appearances on each other’s records as do fellow Toto alumni, it’s a neat crossover and a double dose of songs for Toto fans.
However, the two records could not be more diametrically opposed.
Steve Lukather’s I’ve Found The Sun Again is the essence of raw, stripped back, live by the seat of your pants, live in the studio recording. Taking just 8 days to record with guests Williams, David Paich and a core band of drummer Greg Bissonette, keyboardist Jeff Babko, and bassists Jorgen Carlsson and John Pierce all playing live in the studio, this record has an organic energy that really captures the talents of all involved.
With songs running from just 3 minutes to an epic 10 minutes, there is something special happening here. There will be some that simply don’t get the jazzy, free-form rock vibe of the album’s 8 tracks, only one of which is a rocker in the traditional Lukather solo sense. The Opener Along For The Ride is a splash of targeted energy and a biting lyric typical of Luke’s sharp mind.
At the other end of the spectrum is the epic The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys, a mid-tempo track that slides in and out of full jazz instrumental arrangements and moody vocals. The piano/percussion mid-song section is to die for, as is Luke’s slow riffing and soloing throughout the song.
Journey Through is one the finest Luke instrumentals I can recall and despite my firm love of vocals, is another album highlight.
A pair of 6 minute mid-tempo songs continue the raw, live energy, while never once feeling underdone or missing anything like multi-layered overdubs and other production effects.
Run To Me is the obviously ‘happy’ song of the album and has a full Beatles vibe going on, propelled by guest drummer Ringo Starr playing his part.
Another epic closes the album. The 8 minute Bridge Of Sighs is musically intense, drenched in organs and guitar and some brilliant solo pockets where the guys all get to shine.
Some won’t get this album. It’s not all rock and it’s certainly not a commercial record. it’s largely mid-tempo and its very loose. But dropped into the Lukather discography, it really is a perfect fit. It makes total sense and blends a little of everything from the legendary guitarist’s career.
And there you have it. One loose, raw and live record paired with a highly structured, methodical production piece. Both records have unique personalities and distinct characteristics but also intrinsic crossed-over musical alliances and both work equally well in their own right and shuffled together. It is a unique situation and I hope fans embrace both records for what they are.
I’m equally comfortable playing one individually and the other the following day, but also back to back for two glorious hours of perfectly executed musical genius.