Thursday, May 21, 2009

Larry Carlton, Steve Lukather Band - The Paris Concert DVD Review

In this DVD , Larry Carlton and Steve Lukather, two guitar masters from diametrically opposite ends of the LA studio session scene, share the billing in a live concert setting. Surely this is what guitar dreams are made of.

The first track, Jeff Beck's The Pump, is given the extended improv treatment. Lukather is in fine form and his tone is breathtaking. His mastery and control of feedback, nuanced by touches on the vibrato bar show a more recent Beck influence. The time he's spent hanging out with his friend Jeff definitely shows through.

Once the dust has settled, Carlton duly responds. Opting for a fat, mildly overdriven tone from his ES335 and Dumble amplifiers, we are reminded of all the things we love about Larry Carlton. He takes a lot of liberties, even quoting 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town' before going into his trademark fusion lines.

The second cut, Blues Force, a Fourplay tune, is a hard swinging shuffle with the main melody played in twin-guitar harmony. Carlton switches to a vintage Les Paul Special for this tune. The Special was introduced as a lower end, no-frills Les Paul guitar in its day, with a simple slab body and P90 pickups. And Larry really makes it sing, proving once and for all that it is really all in the hands.

The next tune, It Was Only Yesterday is originally from Carlton's self-titled second album 'Larry Carlton'. Larry introduces this song with Johnny Smith-style chord voicings before launching into the tune as a chord-melody arrangement replete with counterpoint lines, harmonics and closed-chord voicings. Lukather enters and restates the melody with a vibe and feel that is totally vintage Carlton. Uncanny.

Next, Lukather launches into his trademark rendition of Red House, the famous Jimi Hendrix tune. This is the token vocal song on the DVD and I'm guessing it is one of Lukather's favorites since he sings it so often. His rather manic blues-inflected rock solo is followed by Carlton's elegantly understated blues lines. He sets up his solo so well you can cut the atmosphere with a knife. Truly a master at work. As Lukather says to the audience, "There's not many people that can play a guitar like that", one can't help but nod in agreement.

I'll leave you to check out the rest of the concert for yourself. Get this on DVD, the audio quality is superb.

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