Steve Lukather: Birds of Fire
Birds of Fire
Steve Lukather (guitar)
Visions of an Inner Mounting Apocalypse (Tone Center TC 40401)
Jeff Richman (guitar), Kai Eckhardt (bass).
Composed by John McLaughlin.
Recorded: Granada Hills, CA, 2005
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Guitarist Steve Lukather is best known for his time playing in the rock supergroup Toto, which sold millions of records and performed in front of many more fans. Songs such as "Rosanna" and "Africa" became rock anthems. To this day, though the band has gone through many incarnations, it still tours around the world under Lukather's direction. He refuses to be called Toto's leader because he took over the mantle after the death of one of the band's cofounders, Jeff Porcaro.
What few people know, however, is that Steve was an early fusion player. In high school he had a band that played Mahavishnu Orchestra music at school dances. This did not go over well because most people didn't know how to dance to the odd-metered Mahavishnu music.
Thirty years later, producer Jeff Richman gave Lukather a chance to pay respect to John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra by inviting him to play "Birds of Fire" on Visions of an Inner Mounting Apocalypse, a tribute album to McLaughlin and Mahavishnu.
Lukather doesn't pussyfoot around. He gets right to the task at hand and successfully handles the chores on Richman's interesting arrangement. His solo is a bit more processed than McLaughlin's in the original, and he uses a whammy bar for some extra oomph. Colaiuta solos over some chopped-off chord changes. Forman's synth solo is much farther out than Jan Hammer's. We can chalk that one up to technology. The band gets funky to take things out as Lukather starts his guitar to screeching. This is well-honed fusion, which means it isn't actually too clean. True fusion fans will understand the meaning in the previous sentence.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky