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Larry Carlton: Mr. 335 Returns

Larry Carlton

For guitar aficionados who came up in the early ’70s savoring Larry Carlton’s funk-and-blues-tinged work with the Crusaders on such crossover classics as Scratch, Chain Reaction and 1971’s 1 (which contained the anthemic “Put It Where You Want It”), his venture into softer territory as a solo artist during the late ’80s and with the smooth-jazz supergroup Fourplay in the late ’90s was an unfortunate detour. Carlton did manage to emerge every five or six years during his smooth-jazz phase to stretch and blow with pent-up abandon, as on his 1986 live date Last Nite, Stanley Clarke’s 1993 recording Live at the Greek (Epic) and the guitarist’s live-in-Osaka collaboration with fellow axman Steve Lukather on 1998’s No Substitutions for Steve Vai’s chops-conscious Favored Nations. But for the most part, his solo output since the late ’80s has been marked by a willingness to cater to radio play, thus depriving old-school fans of those stinging, blues-inflected licks they remember from back in the day.

Fear not, blueshounds, for Mr. 335 is back kicking ass once again.

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