While many have found the last year a challenge, Toto legend and guitarist Steve Lukather has taken advantage of a particuarly good moment in his life to ‘make hay while the sun shines’.
One result is the release of a powerfully diverse new album, I Found The Sun Again (26 February 2021; Mascot Label Group). Another reason that Lukather is happy is that he appears to have found love again with Amber Thayer (ex-wife of Kiss guitarist Tommy Thayer), who is the inspiration behind the dreamy title track, which is one of the undoubted highlights on the record. Blue skies, blissful love and touches of wry humour are all strongly to the fore in the video releases that have accompanied the album’s lead singles.
Lukather of course has earnt his moment in the sun. For over five decades he has been hugely influential having led multi-platinum group Toto, played on massive hit albums such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and been a key member of Ringo’s All-Starr Band. So it is no surprise that the Beatles’ drummer himself contributes his famous beat to the album, along with Greg Bissonette. They are joined on various tracks by keyboardist Jeff Babko, bassists’ Jorgen Carlsson (Gov't Mule) and John Pierce, organist David Paich, and singer Joseph Williams. Lukather draws together the work of these top-notch musicians with the aid of longtime collaborator and co-producer Ken Freeman.
Lukather has said that this record was ‘recorded quickly, often in one take, with the goal of achieving a live sound in the style of 70’s classic records’, and it certainly does give the listener that nostalgic feel.
The album launches strongly with the rocking Along For The Ride, and features Lukather’s powerful guitar playing and a heartfelt vocal contribution by Williams. This is followed by another standout song, Serpent Soul, which heads off into jazz and funk territory that conceals the dark message behind the song, which refers to a bitter legal battle. “Sometimes I wonder where it all went wrong, Can’t find a reason so I wrote this song, I can’t do this anymore, Won’t take the fall, I won’t be your Judas goat, You think I’m a snake in the grass, But not so fast, Check yourself for a serpent soul,” the Toto leader sings.
Traffic’s The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys is one of several cover versions that are succesfully given the ‘Toto-treatment’, although at over 10 minutes it is perhaps a little overdone. The cover of Joe Walsh’s Welcome To The Club is better, and features a lovely solo by Lukather.
Ringo Starr plays drums on the penultimate track and single release Run to Me, which further reinforces the strong 70’s style vibe of the record. On the accompanying cheery upbeat video, Lukather can be seen playing one of his Ernie Ball Music Man Luke III Signature guitar. The album closes with a tribute to Robin Trower, and in some ways the 1970s as a whole, in the shape of a Bridge of Sighs’ cover, which features some great guitar riffs and Paich on Hammond keyboards.
I Found The Sun Again does not break new ground but it does provide a warm and nostalgic homage to the era of classic rock. Lukather clearly seems to be in a good moment in his life and has taken full advantage of the moment to ‘make hay’. Good for him… and good for us too.