Steve Lukather & Los Lobotomys

Steve Lukather & Los Lobotomys (1994)
Music Video Distribution
Extras: Interview, Biographiy, Featurette

Among guitarists, Steve Lukather takes a very special place for a number of reasons. On the one hand he is the guitarist and singer in one of the West Coast’s musically most polished bands, Toto, with which he has celebrated stellar successes in the past. On the other hand, Lukather has been featured on countless records of other artists as a session player over the years, including recordings by George Benson, America, Paul Anka, Michael Bolton, Cher, Chicago, and just about anyone who’s ever recorded a studio album. And the there’s Lukather’s third face as the singer and guitarist in his solo projects that he takes on tour with his band Los Lobotomys, playing music that shows a much rougher and harder side of the musician.

All this versatility gave him the reputation of one of the most sophisticated guitar players in the music industry, a wunderkind of sorts, who can play anything anytime without hesitation, and after experiencing Lukather live on a couple of occasions myself – including an impromptu jam session during a Spinal Tap concert a few years ago – I am tempted to agree. Whether he’s playing 2/4 beats or goes way out in 5/4 7/8 or 11/12 beats, Lukather makes it all look so easy and sound so cool like no one else does. His way of melding rock, jazz and soul is a beautiful testimony to all the influences he’s working into his music.

Music Video Distribution has now released "Steve Lukather & Los Lobotomys" on DVD, a concert video that was recorded as part of the German concert series "Ohne Filter" during his "Candyman" tour in 1994. Having attended this very concert myself, the DVD brings up great memories. We get to see a rough Lukather play his butt of in front of his fans in a very intimate small venue. Listen to the complexity of the sound and the textures of the music you wouldn’t believe that you’re listening to a four-man piece only, as Lukather’s guitar play manages to fill every nook and cranny of the music and always remains fresh and spontaneous.

Unfortunately the DVD features only 7 tracks from the show – the original set list was much more extensive – opening with "Hero With A 100 Eyes." The complex riff that makes up the song immediately puts you in the right mood and shows you that this band is going to bring the house down with its fusion inflected rock and roll, upbeat tempo and unparalleled virtuosity. And while Lukather stands out as the star of the band, it would be wrong to diminish his partners in crime, most notably Simon Phillips on drums, who is a legend in his own right. When the band closes the show with a staggering performance of "Party In Simon’s Pants" you know that you have just witnessed something extraordinary. Lukather and his band have a quality to either make you want to pick up an instrument right then and there – or to throw it against the wall in frustration over your own inability.

"Steve Lukather & Los Lobotomys" is presented in a <$PS,fullscreen> transfer on this DVD. The image is generally good, though occasional video artifacting and compression artifacts are evident. For the most part, the image is rich and vivid however with very strong colors and good blacks.

Audio is presented as a stereo <$PCM,PCM> track or alternatively as a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby digital> mix. The <$5.1,5.1 mix> is superbly crafted putting you right into the audience with very good dynamics and a wide sound field. Surrounds are sued for reflections mostly, giving the sound image spatial dimension. The frequency response is meticulous with deep basses and very clear high ends.

The DVD also contains a brief interview with the producer as well as a featurette about "sound tuning." Ultimately it’s a commercial however for a company selling cables.

"Steve Lukather & Los Lobotomys" rocks seriously. It’s one of the greatest music releases to come around lately and the brevity of the material truly makes you wish it were longer. Now, if someone would only release a DVD of Toto’s "Tambou" tour I would be a really happy camper…