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Rock - Released February 9, 2018 | Columbia - Legacy

We’ve lost count of the number of Toto compilations, especially since they cover more or less the same selection each time. Since the album IV, a true hold-up from 1982, with two worldwide hits, “Rosanna” and “Africa”, and a torrent of awards (no less than six Grammy Awards), the band which gathered some of the most efficient studio sharks in the world has gone through many hardships without ever recreating this feat. But they didn’t prove unworthy, however, as evidenced by this Greatest Hits: 40 Trips Around The Sun, mostly destined to be released alongside a big new worldwide tour which will celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the release of their first album, Toto. If Toto’s creativity had really dried up 36 years ago, it probably still wouldn’t draw such huge crowds today. Other than “Rosanna”, it’s without surprise that you’ll find some of those first names ending with an “a” (pure coincidence, according to Lukather), with “Pamela” and “Lea” here (“Angela”, “Manuela Run”, “Holyanna” and “Mushanga” are missing). Even if the fourteenth album keeps us waiting, the band’s “survivors” still met in studio to record or complete three brand new titles, “Spanish Sea”, “Alone” and “Struck By Lightning”. The foundations of the first go back to the preparation of The Seventh One, in 1988, which allows us to hear again the late Jeff Porcaro on drums and his brother Mike on bass, in a style very similar to “Africa”. The more pop “Alone” wouldn’t be out of place on IV, even if it is Joseph Williams, arrived in 1986 and who came back in 2010, who handles vocals, just like on the livelier “Struck By Lightning”. Toto also finished the recording of six other titles for a collection whose release is planned for July. ©JPS/Qobuz

Rock - Released June 20, 2014 | Legacy Recordings


Pop/Rock - Released March 26, 1982 | Columbia


Rock - Released March 20, 2015 | Frontiers Records

The title of Toto XIV offers a passing nod to Toto IV, the 1982 masterwork that is by far the group's most popular album, but this 2015 release doesn't share much with that Yacht Rock classic. Despite the McCartney-esque shimmer of "The Little Things" (not to mention the passing allusions to "99" on "Chinatown"), tunes take a backseat to bombast on Toto XIV, with this Steve Lukather-led incarnation accentuating intricate instrumental interplay. Truth be told, early on Toto emphasized this kind of finely honed studio prog, so these intense bursts of instrumental gymnastics aren't out of character, although they are a bit of a surprise when they arrive grouped at the beginning of the album. By the end of Toto XIV, the group has eased back to smoother, melodic territory (the concluding "Great Expectations" is a slow, stately ballad), but the furious first half, containing such plainly evident socio-political protests as "Holy War," "Running Out of Time," "Unknown Soldier," and "21st Century Blues" -- every one of them carrying some kind of reference to new millennial turmoil -- is a clearer indication of where the band's interests lie. Although they're drawing heavily from the galloping art-rock adventure of their pre-"Rosanna" album tracks, they're not living in the past, nor are they denying it: they're accepting all their indulgences, all the intricacies that come with their virtuosity, and making a record that reflects what these veteran rockers have seen and learned in their 40 years in the business. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine.

Rock - Released October 9, 2015 | Columbia - Legacy


Pop/Rock - Released June 4, 1996 | Legacy Recordings

Toto waxed philosophical on its first album to be recorded since the death of founding member Jeff Porcaro and his replacement by drummer Simon Phillips. The song lyrics were full of abstractions -- apathy, dignity, faith, freedom, hope, hopelessness, hypocrisy, rage, trust (those are all from just the first song, "Gift of Faith") -- which seemed to indicate that the band members were reflecting seriously, if not too specifically, on weighty issues in an angry, questioning manner. Some of the lyrics couched these internal struggles in romantic terms, but more often they seemed to refer to more general anguish. The group came up with a more focused, harder, bluesier musical style to carry the weight, and Steve Lukather sang expressively, making you wonder why they bothered so long with those cookie-cutter vocalists. Like a patient new to psychoanalysis, Toto went on at length (the album runs over 70 minutes), and without much coherence, about "the pain of my lifetime" and "a world of blind ambition," among other things. You couldn't call the result accomplished, but Tambu suggested that Toto was embarked on a new personal and musical journey that might lead in an interesting direction. (Released in Europe in the late fall of 1995, Tambu was released in the U.S. as Legacy 64957 on June 4, 1996.) ~ William Ruhlmann

Pop/Rock - Released October 14, 1986 | Columbia

After the ballad-deprived Isolation failed to meet the marketplace like its predecessor, Toto IV, Toto returned to making lush, mid-tempo tunes of romantic despair on Fahrenheit, enlisting their third lead singer, Joseph Williams, and calling in chips all over L.A. to score cameos from the likes of Michael McDonald, Don Henley, David Sanborn, and even Miles Davis, who had the closing track, "Don't Stop Me Now," pretty much to himself. Williams was a slightly grittier and more identifiable vocalist than Bobby Kimball or Fergie Frederiksen. But while the return to power ballads had the intended effect on the pop and adult contemporary charts (both "I'll Be over You" and "Without Your Love" scored), the album had a relatively low chart peak and failed to go gold. That kind of disconnection always indicates that the radio audience is failing to identify the songs with the group that made them, and it always means a career in trouble. ~ William Ruhlmann

Pop/Rock - Released February 23, 1988 | Columbia

Toto attempted to satisfy commercial considerations by loading up the first half of their seventh album with the kind of power ballads that had given the band recognition before, especially songs named after women whose names end in "A" like "Pamela" and "Anna." But these thinly veiled rewrites of "Rosanna" earned only modest radio play, and the rest of the album, which rocked harder as it went on, while it may have been truer to the band's musical aspirations, continued to sound too anonymous to earn any response beyond the band's fan base, especially its international one (which it seemed to be acknowledging by printing some of the sleeve notes in Japanese). ~ William Ruhlmann

Pop - Released December 1, 1984 | Universal Records


Pop/Rock - Released September 24, 1993 | Columbia


Rock - Released September 27, 1999 | Columbia

During the '70s, it appeared as though most rock bands tried to re-create their 'live sound' in the recording studio for their studio albums. But by the early '80s, it was seemed to be the other way around, as studio recordings became increasingly "perfect" sounding. One such band that followed the latter approach was certainly Toto, whose records were so clean-sounding that you could eat a five-course meal off of them. That said, Toto is understandably not exactly the prime candidate to challenge Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! for "grittiest live album of all time." Yet the group of highly respected and skilled studio musicians did offer a document of their 1999 tour the same year, Livefields. Usually, live albums consist of a group's greatest hits, but the only certified Toto hit included here is "Rosanna" (in others words, no "Africa," no "Hold the Line," etc.). Elsewhere, such note-perfect performances of "Caught in the Balance" and "Better World" sound like, well, studio renditions; while the aforementioned missing hits could have easily replaced three indulgent extended solos by various bandmembers. As a result, Livefields will only appeal to the most die-hard Toto fanatics. ~ Greg Prato

Pop/Rock - Released August 2, 1986 | Columbia

It's as easy to see why radio listeners loved Toto as it is to see why critics hated them. Toto's rock-studio chops allowed them to play any current pop style at the drop of a hi-hat: one minute prog rock, the next hard rock, the next funky R&B. It all sounded great, but it also implied that music-making took craft rather than inspiration and that the musical barriers critics like to erect were arbitrary. Then, too, Toto's timing couldn't have been much worse. They rode in during the middle of punk/new wave with its D.I.Y. aesthetic, and their sheer competence was an affront. Of course, there's always been an alternate history of popular music not available to rock critics (it's written in record stores and concert halls and on the radio), and in that story, Toto was a smash. Singles like "I'll Supply the Love" and "Georgy Porgy" (featuring Cheryl Lynn) made the charts, and "Hold the Line" hit the Top Ten and went gold. The members of Toto had already influenced the course of '70s popular music by playing on half the albums that came out of L.A. All they were doing with this album was going public. ~ William Ruhlmann

Rock - Released December 13, 1999 | Legacy Recordings

Best known for its multi-platinum TOTO IV, which earned the group six Grammies, Toto returned after a four-year absence with an album well worth the wait. MINDFIELDS reunited the band with original lead vocalist Bobby Kimball, at a point at which the band hoped to recapture some of its earlier magic. Long regarded as some of rock's best session men and songwriters, Toto's veteran players are at their best on this album. "Cruel" is an upbeat, swingin' jazzy number. "Caught in the Balance" is a fast rocker featuring the guitar work of ace Steve Lukather, who also handles lead vocals on the ballad "Last Love." Kimball digs deep on the bluesy "High Price of Hate." The band turns it down a notch on the wonderful ballad "Melanie" and takes a country rock route on "No Love," which features Clint Black on harmonica. Accessible arrangements, a tight horn section, and polished harmonies are all part of the Toto sound, which MINDFIELDS improves and expands to great measure.

Rock - Released October 29, 2007 | Eagle Rock Entertainment

To many, Toto are considered first and foremost a "studio creation," as the original lineup was comprised of already accomplished session players. But unlike, say, Steely Dan, who for an extended period focused solely on studio work, Toto steadily backed up their albums with live work. That said, a Toto concert album will never be mistaken for Live at Leeds, as they don't stray far from the original studio versions (save for extended "jam" passages), as evidenced throughout 2008's Falling in Between Live. Recorded at a stop in Paris during their 2007 tour, the set list manages to include Toto classics ("Hold the Line," "Rosanna," "Africa") as well as new material ("Falling in Between," "King of the World," "Bottom of Your Soul"). And only at a Toto concert would you get not one, not two, but three chop-showcasing solos (by keyboardist Greg Phillinganes, guitarist Steve Lukather, and drummer Simon Phillips). So from that standpoint, Falling in Between Live is a fitting, true-to-form souvenir of Toto's 2007 world tour. ~ Greg Prato

Pop/Rock - Released September 7, 1992 | Columbia


Pop/Rock - Released March 12, 1985 | Columbia

Having traded in lead singer Bobby Kimball for Fergie Frederiksen, a smooth tenor wailer in the tradition of Journey's Steve Perry, Toto proceeded to follow its power ballad smash Toto IV with a Journey clone album, minus the aching ballads that had made Journey such a success. A workout for drummer Jeff Porcaro, keyboardist David Paich, and guitarist Steve Lukather, Isolation was anything but the kind of record those millions who had loved "Rosanna" were waiting for. It seemed intended to restore the bandmembers' heady studio reputations as hard rock technicians, which it did by dispensing with the elements that finally had made the band a big success in 1982. ~ William Ruhlmann

Pop/Rock - Released August 2, 1988 | Columbia

If Toto's musical advantage was that, since its members continued to play on many of the successful records made in L.A., its own music was popular almost by definition, its disadvantage was that it made little attempt to seek an individual musical signature -- a particular style, say, or a distinctive singer (Bobby Kimball was not it) who could make its records immediately identifiable. "Hold the Line" had been a big hit, but who did it? Boston? Foreigner? As a result, Toto was less well positioned than most to come off a big debut album with the follow-up, and Hydra was unusually dependent on its leadoff single, "99." Maybe it was a tribute to the female lead on the old Get Smart TV show, but many listeners didn't get a song with a chorus that went, "Oh, 99, I love you," and the single stalled in the bottom half of the Top 40. The album went gold on momentum, but the songs, however well-played, simply were not distinctive enough to consolidate the success Toto had achieved with its debut album. ~ William Ruhlmann

Rock - Released September 16, 2016 | Eagle Rock Entertainment


Pop/Rock - Released November 22, 1983 | Columbia

Toto went from disappointment to disaster with its third album, the generic Turn Back. The group's ability to turn out highly competent studio rock was not translating into an individual sound, and since Turn Back had no memorable songs on it, one was left with nothing more than those famous chops that Toto possessed in abundance. The group would rally from this retreat, but for the moment a better title would have been Fall Back, as in, the bandmembers always had their studio jobs to fall back on. ~ William Ruhlmann

Pop/Rock - Released December 9, 2007 | Sony BMG Music Entertainment

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