Carlton's debut was 1968's With a Little Help From My Friends, a respectable if not boring effort of him playing popular songs of the time. As the guitarist for the Crusaders, he helped to personify their commercial and fulfilling West Coast sound from 1971-1976. During the end of his tenure, it seemed like the group was limiting what he could do on his own. In many respects, Larry Carlton renews the artist. Unlike many efforts of the time, Carlton enlists a small, accomplished band with bassist Abe Laboriel, drummer Jeff Porcaro, and Greg Mathieson on keyboards. "Room 335," an ode to the studio in L.A. where this was recorded, all but sets the stage for the style of his early solo work. "Nite Crawler," a track Carlton originally did with the Crusaders for Free As the Wind, shows up here. In this version, Carlton's lines replace Wilton Felder's sax lead and this is better than original. The album's best track, the exhilarating "Rio Samba," is a more muscular take on the work Lee Ritenour did at the time as Carlton hits amazing notes, aided by Mathieson's keyboard work. The last track, "(It Was) Only Yesterday" has Carlton's inimitable style of doing a disconsolate song with the emotion of his guitar providing a catharsis. Larry Carlton is a self-production and was a great way for Carlton to again do solo work.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Elias