Toto – “Toto XIV” CD/DVD/LP (Frontiers Music)
Formed in the late 70s and renowned for hits such as ‘Africa’, ‘Hold The Line’ and ‘Rosanna’, Toto have been together for 38 years, received over 200 Grammys and sold half a billion – yes billion – albums! One of the pillars of AOR throughout the 80s, it would not be an exaggeration to estimate that 95% of the world’s population has heard a performance by a member of Toto and even though their huge popularity waned in the 90s, Toto’s following amongst its fans has kept the band touring throughout the years even if their albums have been sporadic. “Toto XIV” is the band’s first studio release since 2006’s “Falling In Between” and still with core members Steve Lukather, David Paich and Steve Porcaro at the helm the 11 tracks pretty much have Toto’s signature sound stamped all over them being a mixture of US 80s AOR, 70s prog rock and US jazz rock, complete with melodic harmonies and synth work. Joining this nucleus is original bassist Dave Hungate (after 33 years) while Keith Carlock (Steely Dan, Sting) now sits behind the drum kit. Vocally, Joseph Williams (who also sang on “The Seventh One” and “Fahrenheit”) is back once again and fitting in perfectly with Toto’s sound. Lukather’s stylish, complex guitar work is especially commendable being all over this excellent album and is like a beam of light piercing through the darkness on songs like ‘Burn’, ‘Orphan’ and ‘Great Expectations’ providing the crucial link between the tranquility formed by delicate vocals and pianos contrasted by the hard hitting rock that goes straight to the heart of anyone with a soul – brilliant! 10 months in the making, if this album turns out to be Toto’s swansong then they couldn’t have gone out on a higher note with respectable songs and mutual respect for one another. With the deluxe edition including an expanded booklet featuring a 3,000 word essay with exclusive interviews, exclusive pictures and a bonus DVD including a documentary ‘Making of…’ the album, “Toto XIV” is a fitting testament to a band that came back to their peak to record one last time both for their enduring fans and themselves. Even more so it’s dedicated to former bassist Mike Porcaro who passed away aged 59 on Sunday 15 March 2015.