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January/February 2008

Larry Carlton
Greatest Hits Rerecorded, Volume One
335

A common practice among major record labels is to release a greatest-hits compilation from an artist after cutting ties with said artist. It’s changing now, and that’s where Larry Carlton comes in. Carlton recently opened up shop on 335 Records, named after his famed guitar. Perhaps to announce that the store’s open, Carlton crafted a greatest-hits collection of his own, but this one’s different. He’s rerecorded nine of his best-known songs with a new group, while adding fresh guitar solos. The result is, naturally, a fresh take on well-worn songs with in-the-moment backing by the crack band of Jeff Babko on keys, Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Paul Cerra on sax and Travis Carlton—Larry’s son—on bass.

Carlton writes some excellent inside-baseball stuff in the liner notes about each of the nine songs. For example, the initial recording of “Room 335,” which featured bassist Jaco Pastorius, was never released, and a completely different band stepped in for the original version in 1978. The first two chords of the 2007 version, like the other two, are the same voicing, but a different key, paying homage to the Steely Dan song “Peg” that Carlton performed on.

Carlton’s smoother side, which he explores on solo albums and with Fourplay, are expressed in memorable songs like “Smiles and Miles to Go,” “Hello Tomorrow” and “Kid Gloves.” But Carlton, who also plays in the smokin’ Saffire Blues Band, lays down crunchy and wailing licks on heavier fare like “RCM” and “Red Hot Poker.” Let’s hope Carlton the record label exec doesn’t get too busy that he forgets to record Volume Two.

Originally published in January/February 2008
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