Trev Lukather Reveals The 10 Albums That Changed His Life
Interview by Andrew Daly
With dad like Steve Lukather, aka the man who riffed alongside Eddie Van Halen on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” played rhythm guitar in the studio for Eric Clapton on “Forever Man,” and helped establish the sound of AOR with Toto via “Hold the Line,” and “Africa,” it’s no surprise that Trev Lukather ended up a guitar player.
But to be fair, while his dad and Toto are influences, Trev Lukather has established himself in his own right. Through his unique sense of melody and an innate ability to weed mediocre licks out of the mix, Trev Lukather finds himself a premier player amongst a scene awash in talent. Ability aside, though, the assumption remains that his father linchpinned his sound. And yes, Trev does cite much of his dad’s work. How could he not? But that’s not all that makes up the fabric of Trev Lukather’s guitar smorgasbord.
And so, to further shed light on where he pulls inspiration from, Trev Lukather dialed in with ClassicRockHistory.com to dig into the ten albums that changed his life.
# 1 – So by Peter Gabriel (1986)
This album is my everything! Unique, honest, hooky, and experimental with pop sensibilities. You have elements of funk, horn section hooks, lyric hooks for days, and, of course, one of the best songs ever written, “In Your Eyes,” which we picked for our first dance when I married my wife, Madison.
I was highly influenced by this album while recording my debut. The feelings I got from the first track to the last are indescribable. I love that it didn’t matter how differently the amazing Peter Gabriel approached each song; it all sounded cohesive. A lot he came up with on the spot. In the moment. Unreal.
# 2 – IV by Toto (1982)
I must give my pop, Steve Lukather, and the band that made me pick up an instrument credit with this 1982 Album of the Year Grammy winner, Toto’s IV. The album brought pop’s band to the highest level of success, and it was the first album that was collaboratively written. It had huge hits like the timeless song “Africa,” “Rosanna,” and “I Won’t Hold You Back.”
This album has everything: rock, pop, R&B, and funk elements with the best of the best musicians in their prime. It’s insanely well-produced. I remember hearing this album for the first time and being so proud to be pop’s son, but also how incredible they worked under pressure. Sony told them, “You either make a hit album, or we’re letting you go,” the music gods intervened.
They made their most successful album, and every song was perfectly arranged, with pop-rock anthem after anthem. They were in their element; you can’t deny it when you listen. For what critics gave them so much shit for regarding the album being “polished,” it set the standard of what all popular albums today sound like. That’s also why they are still relevant. A must-have!
# 3 – Audioslave by Audioslave (2002)
Front-to-back and face-melting songs with one of the most powerful, and talented rock singers to ever live, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, and one of the greatest-ever units in Rage Against the Machine [Tom Morello/Brad Wilk/Tim Commerford]. I’ve always been a fan of Tom Morello’s funk rock riffs and trend-setting solos/sounds. I heard Rick Rubin put them together, and what came of it was magic in a bottle.
I’ll never forget hearing “Cochise” for the first time, as I had to pick my jaw off the floor. I purchased the album on the first day, and when I heard “Show Me How to Live,” “Gasoline,” and “Set It Off.” I was mind-blown with how they could deliver one kick to the gut after another. I am inspired to this day and still listen to it front to back from time to time.
#4 – Escape by Journey (1981)
This album is Journey on fire and the first with my father-in-law, Jonathan Cain. The universe aligned, no doubt. The writing force and talent of Steve Perry, Neal Schon, and Jonathan Cain was a freight train off the tracks, and I got hit by it at 19 years old. The title track, “Escape,” totally blew my mind.
I got all my fixes. Of course, it has the evergreen “Don’t Stop Believin'” but also classics like “Stone in Love,” “Who’s Crying Now,” and “Open Arms;” I can name the whole album, and you would know the songs. It has influenced me as a player and writer to this day, and I am blessed to call them all my friends and family.
# 5 – Extreme II: Pornograffitti by Extreme (1990)
I’m a sucker for horn sections, killer guitar solos, and funk rock anthems. This brings it all. Tongue and cheek lyrics, not taking themselves too seriously but seriously talented all around. Everyone knows “More than Words,” but that is the outsider of this album.
“Get The Funk Out” blew me away! It’s one of the sickest Nuno Bettencourt guitar solos and arrangements ever. But, man, what a great and awesome overall song! The whole album has that vibe. Every song is smoking! It’s still one of the greatest and most underrated rock albums.
# 6 – 90125 by Yes (1983)
The first Yes album with Trevor Rabin on guitar and produced by Trevor Horn. This album took me on a psychedelic trip sober! The vocal arrangements alone are scary, and it’s one of the best-produced albums with one of the best producers ever!
Both Trevor’s are huge influences of mine. I was named after Rabin. Trevor Rabin is so underrated, and it kills me! He’s in a league of his own. Tasty as can be but Trevor Rabin can also shred your face off if we want. This album, front to back, will change your life.
# 7 – Morning View by Incubus (2001)
This album brings me nostalgic vibes but shows how incredible Incubus is as a band. The rawness and honesty of this album kill me every time I listen. Mike Einziger is a force on guitar. His trendsetting sounds and riffs always stand out. Brandon Boyd is equally as unique and authentic as it gets. The whole band and album are incredible, and it no doubt inspired me as a young musician.
# 8 – The Wall by Pink Floyd (1979)
Two words: David Gilmour. He remains one of my all-time biggest influences as a musician. This album is an experience in more ways than one. What can you say about this album that hasn’t already been said? It features the greatest guitar solo of all time at the end of “Comfortably Numb.”
Nothing stands next to this album, and nothing sounds like it. This album is in its own category. I believe we all try to create an album that stands on its own as an artist. This album will always be up there with the greatest of all time, generation after generation.
# 9 – 1984 by Van Halen (1984)
I have to bring Eddie [Van Halen] into my list, but it’s hard to choose just one Van Halen album. Eddie has highly influenced me through his approach to the guitar and writing. His focus was on what he wanted, not what anyone else was doing. He changed the game and knew what notes hit the spot.
The music was just as or if more hooky than the hook of the songs themselves. People singing the guitar riffs just as loud as “PANAMA!” is amazing, but the reason I chose 1984 is because it showed a whole new side of Ed and the band that really inspired me. Ed showed he even had his own style on the keys! It introduced a taste of a whole new direction that would catapult the band to even higher lengths, and for good reason.
Also, Alex Van Halen’s drum intro on “Hot for Teacher” can’t be touched. It doesn’t get enough credit, in my opinion. It showcased how boss this band was. And Michael Anthony’s soaring background vocals are there, and it’s just David Lee Roth in his highest element. It gave every member a moment to shine, and that’s something I really appreciate as a listener and musician.
# 10 – Hysteria by Def Leppard (1987)
Two words: Mutt Lange. As a producer, he is God. Every song on this album is written and built to be played in a stadium. Because of this album, I approach my songs and productions the same. I want the listener and audience to have their time to sing along all together so they can be a part of the show and band. Def Leppard and Mutt are the kings of that.
On top of this album being one of the all-time greats, it showed the loyalty they had for one another. Rick [Allen] lost his arm, but they waited years for him to learn how to re-create the instrument so he could play and stay in the band. They created a drum sound that is uniquely Rick and an overall sound that is Def Leppard. Does it get any more inspirational than that?
Trev Lukather Reveals The 10 Albums That Changed His Life article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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