Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Classic Album Review: Toto's Grammy Award winning 1982 materpiece "Toto IV"

Toto IV is the fourth studio album by Toto, & undoubtedly their magnum opus. The album won the band multiple Grammy Awards (in the days when Grammies were actually prestigious!) & reached No 4 in the USA Billboard charts as well as UK Charts. It also achieved worldwide commercial success including a No 1 position in the Australian ARIA Charts.

Toto IV is a masterfully produced album (Grammy winner for production) & a collection of songs which are a rich fusion of rock, pop & jazz. In many ways Toto reached their peak too early with this album & it was inevitable that they would never again reach the commercial & critical success they achieved with Toto IV.

There are two main aspects that make this album one of the finest pop albums of all time:

a) By the time Toto recorded this album, all band members were amongst the most sought after "Studio Musicians" around the world. ie Toto in its own way was a band of highly skilled super musicians & the chemistry produced an album much bigger than the sum of the parts.

b) "Africa" & "Rosanna" are generally acknowledged as two of the greatest pop songs ever written, with the pop culture stories of Rosanna's subject matter being the actress Rosanna Arquette who had at the time broken up with Steve Porcaro.

However, the high calibre of the above two songs resulted in plenty of rather jealous & unwarranted criticism of the rest of the songs in album over the years. AS I mentioned the criticism is totally unwarranted as the rest of the songs are a great fusion of pop, jazz & rock songs & sit comfortably well with the two above mentioned masterpieces.
Th songs generally combine David Paich & Steve Porcaro's brilliant keyboard with Steve Lukather's masterful guitar riffs & (the late) Jeff Porcaro's jazz influenced drumming. The icing in the cake is Bobby Kimball's soulful voice (both lead & backing vocals) complimenting David Piach & Steve Lukather's vocals.

For example, Steve Lukather's "I won't hold you back now" the third Billboard Top 10 hit from the album is a classic love ballad worthy of its enduring popularity nearly 30 years later. whilst my other favourites are the highly underrated "Make Believe", "It's a Feeling" & "Lovers in the Night" all of which are a display of a band at the absolute height of its musical creativity.

Toto never reached the dizzy heights of Toto IV again. The lukewarm reception to their more pop influenced subsequent albums in the 80s & the tragic death of Jeff Porcaro in early 1990s opened up the inevitable "change in personnel" floodgates & the musical confusion that usually follows as a result.

This album however still sounds crisp & relevant nearly 30 years after its release in the USA & is a must in any rock/pop collection.
My Rating: 5/5