ARTIST: Carlton, Larry
ALBUM: Strikes Twice
LABEL: Warner Bros
CD REISSUE: 1992, MCA, MCAD-42246 * 2008, Warners, WPCR-75365
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Larry Carlton - guitar, vocals, keyboards * Robert Popwell - bass * John Ferraro - drums * Greg Mathieson- keyboards, Brian Mann, Don Freeman, Terry Trotter - keyboards
TRACK LISTING: 01 Strikes Twice * 02 Ain't Nothin' For A Heartache * 03 Midnight Parade * 04 The Magician * 05 Springville * 06 Mulberry Street * 07 In My Blood * 08 For Love Alone
You'd have to look far and wide to find a more accomplished and better guitar player than Larry Carlton, who will be well known to most here for his extensive session work in the 70's and 80's, with seemingly more credits to his name than even Steve Lukather
! Carlton's style has always been primarily in the jazz mode and to even try and list even a fraction of his work would be futile, but his guitar work for the 'Hill Street Blues' theme in 1981 seems to be his most famous piece. Prior to 'Strikes Twice' Carlton had recorded several solo albums, with his self-titled 1978 album taking a West Coast direction, with jazz fusion overtones and lengthy instrumental pieces which characterize most of Carlton's work. By the time of this album he had the style down to a fine art and in my opinion this is his finest solo work. The album mixes all the styles once more that his 1978 album did, a great blend of everything that would appeal to fans of melodic rock in general.
The title track is an immediately arresting west coast instrumental that recalls some of Pablo Cruise
's similar jaunts in the late 70's. The synths are everywhere, vying for equal time with Carlton's remarkable soloing. This defines that period of music in general and should conjure up visions of a sun laden beach in California somewhere. Carlton adds his vocals for 'Ain't Nothing For A Heartache' which is a pure west coast track, right up there with Nielsen-Pearson
for genre excellence. This one should rightfully be heard by anyone with a taste for this superior kind of music. 'Midnight Parade' is another instrumental, with more helpings of Carlton's melodic soloing, aided by some bouncy bass work which would have made this ideal fodder for a television show intro. A close relation to Steely Dan
(who Carlton played with) is 'The Magician' with shades of the Dudek, Finnegan and Krueger Band
also, which gives you an idea to its worthiness in AOR circles. 'Springville' starts out rather slowly before exploding in a whirlwind of Carlton's solos, taking shape in fast and slow forms, just a master class to behold. At seven minutes plus 'Mulberry Street' is a lot to digest, another upbeat instrumental with far more of the fusion elements at play. Carlton almost goes metal for 'In My Blood', a heavy number with a brilliant passage of atmospheric guitar work at the halfway point that stands out as inspired. 'For Love Alone' is another outstanding instrumental, this time Carlton concentrating on slower and more dream like solos. It's evidence of Carlton's ability to play it anyway he chooses, all of it within the realms of AOR.
This and most of Carlton's work at the time tended to be overshadowed by his session work, which was on a grand scale. Carlton has gone on to win multiple Grammy awards and even survived being shot in the throat in 1988, while releasing a ton of albums in the process. Exploring some of Carlton's albums has been a treat and some of the more melodic albums such as 'Strikes Twice' really should be heard. This truly is a guitar genius at work.
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