Steve Lukather’s new album Transition on Mascot Records strikes a perfect balance of style, power and imagination as he takes risks and challenges himself in ways most other players can’t even approach.
That’s been standard operating procedure for this high-wire artist of the six-string for nearly four decades, as his career has gone from the studios of Los Angeles to the world’s biggest concert halls to the helm of the multi-platinum selling group Toto and, recently, to ground-breaking tours with Ringo Starr, guitar geniuses Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, and the reunited Toto, who have scheduled a follow-up 35th anniversary tour for 2013.
“I’ve got a lot to be thankful for, and now is a perfect time for me to take stock of that, which is part of what Transition is about,”Lukather says.
Over the previous decade a series of trials including divorce, the death of his mother and business hassles had dampened his joy in music making — a passion that drove Lukather to excel since seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan as a seven-year-old growing up in San Fernando Valley. But today the guitar guru is happy, healthy and strongly reconnected to his muse, and the lushly expressive Transition, his second Mascot album, finds him at a creative pinnacle.
“I equate recordings to paintings,” he explains, “ and I wanted to make Transition a big, beautiful album with lots of fine details and shadings and colors. That’s what I do and what my favorite albums — Sgt. Pepper’s, Dark Side of the Moon, Electric Ladyland, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road — are all about. So if it’s a sin to make massive sounding records with huge production values, then I’m going to Hell.”
Fat chance, because Transition’s heavenly sonic architecture — erected with the help of such A-list musical friends as Def Leppard’s Phil Collen, superstar bassists Lee Sklar, Nathan East, John Pierce, and Tal Wilkenfeld, live band members Steve Weingart, Renee Jones, and Eric Valentine, along with mega-drummers Gregg Bissonette, Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tos Panos, and Lukather’s longtime keyboard foil and co-writer / co-producer C.J. Vanston — actually weaves a tale of redemption.
Beginning with the snarling rhythmic heartbeat of the cutting “Judgment Day” and the evil kiss-off blues “Creep Motel,” the album builds to the pivotal title track.
“‘Transition’ is a turning point for the album and a turning point for me,”Lukather explains. “As we were writing the songs, I was thinking about everything I’ve seen — all the people I’ve lost in my life, the great and the difficult experiences I’ve had, and how ultimately it was time to get it together and embrace things for what they are, because we’ve only got one life to live and we’ve got to make the most of it.”
Despite the album’s harmonic depth and sonic surprises, Lukather explains that he kept his guitar sound organic. “These days I like it simple and direct,” he says. “I plugged my new Music Man L-3 signature model guitar straight into a Bogner amp and miked it with an SM-57. Any effects were added at the mixing desk. I used a Kemper Profiling Amp for some of the weird sounds, and that was it. Live these days it’s just my guitar and amp and a couple stomp boxes — and I just go for it.”
“I’ve been working really hard on my vocals,”Lukather attests. “For me, these days it’s all about the song and the performance. I’m not interested in being the fastest gun in the West. I want to make beautiful music that means something.”
Lukather, Weingart and Vanston’s closing instrumental rendition of the Charlie Chaplin classic “Smile” has a very deep connection for the guitarist. “That was my mother’s favorite song,” he relates. “We’ve been playing it as an encore live, and it seemed like the perfect way to close the album, too.”
Transition was recorded over a 10-month period during breaks in Lukather’s juggernaut 2012 touring schedule, which included dates with Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan, the reunited Toto, the guitar-riffic G3 tour with Satriani and Vai, and Ringo Starr.
“Honestly, playing with Ringo and Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, and my high school friends in Toto helped make this the best year of my life,” he says. Lukather notes — getting the call from Ringo was a childhood fantasy realized. “I play music because of the Beatles, and to be standing on stage playing a Beatles song while I look back at the drum kit and see Ringo… unbelievable! He’s such a wise, funny and gracious man.”
Lukather has also worked with George Harrison and Paul McCartney — just part of a historic resume that began when he was in his teens, playing recording sessions in LA and learning about life on the road with Boz Scaggs after Scaggs’ landmark album Silk Degrees.
A five-time Grammy Winner and member of the Musicians Hall of Fame, Lukather has also worked with an A-list of fellow guitar giants: Eddie Van Halen, Robben Ford, Lee Ritenour, Larry Carlton, Slash, Zakk Wylde, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, and Joe Bonamassa among them. He’s also co-led Toto with fellow founder David Paich through every twist of the band’s platinum lined history while playing on albums by Michael Jackson, Warren Zevon, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Nicks, Don Henley, Miles Davis, Roger Waters, Cheap Trick and other rock and pop royalty. And he’s done all that while writing hits for the Tubes and George Benson, plus maintaining a parallel solo career of his own that began with his 1988 solo debut Lukather.
Seven solo albums later, Lukather reflects: “I’d like to say this is the best album I’ve ever made, but that’s a cliché. But I do think I’ve realized my goal of moving forward, so let me say that Transition is possibly the best reflection of who I am in 2012.”
1. Judgement Day
2. Creep Motel
3. Once Again
4. Right The Wrong
6. Last Man Standing
7. Do I Stand Alone
8. Rest Of The World
Verve recording artist Keith Harkin’s self-titled solo debut was released on September 18th, 2012. Jochem van der Saag—who has worked with such artists as Josh Groban, Michael Bublé and Seal, produced the CD.
David Foster, the multi-Grammy® Award-winning producer and recently appointed Chairman of Verve Music Group, serves as executive producer. Harkin is best-known as a principle singer with Irish global powerhouse Celtic Thunder, which Billboard named Top World Music Artist.
“Keith Harkin has a rare combination of talents — he’s a great singer, a unique songwriter and gifted live performer. He defines the very qualities true artists are born with,” said David Foster, adding, “We’re proud to have Keith as a key member of the growing Verve family.
Keith Harkin, a twelve-track collection split between classic covers and original compositions, illustrates the artist’s skills as both an interpreter and a writer. The album’s first single is the bittersweet traveler’s plea, “Don’t Forget About Me,” which will be accompanied by a video.
“I love all music, and a lot of my influences are on this record,” says Harkin. ”Neil Young, pop, dance, country—I love Glen Campbell. I see it like an old-school Elton John record, where he would play rock next to country next to folk. It’s quite a broad horizon.”
Cover versions of rock and pop classics include Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You,” featuring a duet with two-time Grammy® Award winner Colbie Caillat, Tom Waits’ “The Heart Of Saturday Night,” “Everybody’s Talkin’,” which Harkin mastered at age 13, and a powerful version of Don Henley’s “The End of the Innocence.”
In addition to “Don’t Forget About Me,” other self-penned tracks include the gently rolling, heartfelt love song “Nothing But You & I,” and the yearning
Grammy-Award winning rock legend Boz Scaggs showcases both original songs and choice covers in his new album, MEMPHIS out March 5, 2013 on 429 Records. Produced by Steve Jordan (John Mayer), Memphis was recorded at Willie Mitchell legendary Royal Studio in Memphis, where the late Mitchell recorded Al Green and other hit music artists. Joining Scaggs on MEMPHIS are Willie Weeks (bass), Ray Parker Jr. (guitars), Spooner Oldham (keyboards), the Memphis Horns, Lester Snell (string arrangements) and Steve Jordan (drums).
Boz Scaggs began a long and storied career in 1965 with the release of his first solo recording Boz. Scaggs quickly developed into an iconic singer songwriter cutting his teeth playing with Steve Miller on several highly successful projects and honing his rock and R&B chops working with the likes of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and Duane Allman. Scaggs hit it big in 1976 achieving multi-platinum success with Silk Degrees and its follow ups. Scaggs continued on a lauded and multi-genre musical journey with successes in film soundtracks. He and his band continue to tour worldwide and Scaggs also performs alongside Donald Fagan and Michael McDonald in their band billed as The Dukes of September.
The creative spark that eventually evolved into Blue Sky Riders was struck when two veteran singer/songwriters worked on their first song together. When Kenny Loggins, one of the premiere voices in modern popular music, joined forces with Gary Burr, one of Nashville’s most accomplished writers, on the well received 2008 release “How About Now” they felt they sounded like brothers when they sang together.
Loggins, looking for a creative step forward in his musical career, decided on the spot to form a band but wanted to add a third, female voice. Burr, who has been named Songwriter of the Year by ASCAP, Billboard and NSAI and has worked with artists such as Juice Newton, Conway Twitty and Wynonna Judd, suggested singer/songwriter Georgia Middleman, who has worked with Keith Urban, Faith Hill and Martina McBride among others. And Blue Sky Riders was born. All three veterans sing lead amid three-part harmonies, which makes Blue Sky Riders unique. Blue Sky Riders' debut album Finally Home will release January 29, 2013.
Michael Landau's new project is a new musical happening with Jimmy Herring, Wayne Krantz, Keith Carlock and Etienne Mbappe. The band is called "The Ringers" and they will have a few dates in February to start things out. The idea is to play a few originals from each member and also play some tunes written together for the band.
EU-only 10 CD box containing the first decade of studio recordings by the veteran Pop/Rock outfit. Chicago began as a politically charged, sometimes experimental, rock band and later moved to a predominantly softer sound, generating several hit ballads. Once the group began making records, fans rewarded the group with record sales of 100,000,000, 21 Top 10 singles, five consecutive #1 albums, 11 Number One Singles and five Gold singles. An incredible 25 of their 32 albums have been certified platinum. To date, Chicago is the first American band to chart Top 40 albums in five decades - a landmark accomplishment.
Housed in a small clamshell box, The Studio Albums 1969-1978 contains 10 CDs in paper-sleeve mini-jackets.
Tracklist is: Caught in the Game, It’s The Singer Not The song, High On You, Is This Love, Didn’t Know It Was Love, I See You In Everyone, A Dream Too Far, Crossroads Moment, Rebel Son, Burning Heart, I’m Always Here & Eye Of The Tiger.
It's hard to imagine the amount of dedication, commitment, focus and sheer energy it takes to complete a record when you're touring the world as a lead guitarist for a popular artist, as well as producing yet another musical project. For Chiaravalle (pronounced ("shaira velley") it simply comes down to passion. It's not a matter of choice; it's just creative necessity. Not that he doesn't absolutely love the job he's had with Michael McDonald for the past 24 years, it's just that he has music he needs to make and artistic statements of his own to offer.
And Chiaravalle has done that in a very complete way with "All Or Nothing", his 5th record, on which he supplies all the vocals and plays all the instruments (with the exception of Tommy Oliverio playing mandolin on "Bound To Fall"). All of the songs were written by Bernie alone on this record. "I had a lot of personal feelings and emotions to express while writing this record and I felt to really say what I felt, I need to write alone".
Direct from a string of successful live performances throughout the world including South America, Asia, Europe and the United States, former Journey lead vocalist and current classic melodic rock solo sensation Steve Augeri returns to the studio to release two new original songs – Rich Man's World, a song for today with the power to resonate with everyday people, and Home This Christmas Time, a personal call to help those in need this holiday season, especially for his fellow Staten Islanders who have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
The dual release of 'Rich Man's World' and 'Home This Christmas Time' sets the stage for his forthcoming 20 European city engagement beginning in 2013 with Rock Meets Classic. The highly anticipated show features world-renowned artists such as Paul Rogers, Bonnie Tyler, Eric Bazilian and Chris Thompson and support by The Bohemian Symphony Orchestra Prague.
Be sure to listen to Steve's last releases for 2012 and look for The Steve Augeri Band as they continue to perform throughout the United States in 2013 with members Adam Holland, Mike Morales, Craig Pullman and Gerard Zappa with Sally Blandon and Erica Iozzo.