(8/10) I don't think that I have to introduce Toto to you. They are well known since many years and can look back on a successful career. My first touchpoint with the band was in 1982 when they released "Toto IV" - an album that had a chart entry in many countries and contained hit singles like "Africa" and "Rosanna". The new album "XIV" picks up these times and like keyboarder Steve Porcato said: "We are treating this like it is "Toto V", our following "Toto IV".
Now we are living in 2015 and it feels like yesterday that the mentioned hits accompanied me in my youth. However, the music of Toto is still around, which is something very good. It feels like a constant factor in fast changing times.
The backbone of Toto is guitarist Steve Lukather, keyboarder David Paich and keyboarder Steve Porcaro. All three had and have a main impact on the sound of the band and together with singer Bobby Kimball they are/have been the figureheads of the band. In this context I don't want to forget bass player Mike Porcaro who lost his fight against ALS a few days ago (R.I.P.). This is a sad moment for the family, band and the fans and it makes "XIV" to a kind og legancy for the great bass player and founding member.
A few years ago also a change behind the microphone took place. Kimball left Toto and was replaced by singer Joseph Williams who had in the meantime already some live appearences with the group, incl. the live album "35th anniversary tour - Live in Poland". But the new album is the first studio record with the new man behind the mic. How will it sound?
I have to say that the new disc became a good one. As mentioned, with naming it "XIV" the band also placed a crossink to the famous forth album. And it's more than only the title of the album that reminds to the milestone record of Toto.
The album starts very energetic. "Running out of time" has an excellent groove and the song creates a curiousity to hear more. "Burn" was one of the earlier released videos and it follows the rocking opener. The tune is kept more silent with piano before it turns into a hard rocking song halfway. "Holy war" is a typical Toto songs with all the trademarks of the band before "21st century blues" shows the bluesy side of Toto. I like this expression of Toto's sound and I was reminded a bit to the earlier Whitesnake songs from the '1987' period.
"Orphan" has a surprisingly positive expression before with "Unkown soldier" starts. It a more trivial track and I never really got into it. It's an OK song but the other ones on "XIV" are better.
The soulful "The little things" is another catchy tune before with "Chinatown" a swinging number follows that could have been almost coming from Chicago as well.
I have to say that the album gets more silent in the second half. "All the tears" belongs to those tracks and also the closer "Great expectations", in bigger parts, fits into this scheme. However, that last mentioned one shows quite some prog element and comes with a great guitar solo from Lukather. Prog rock per excellence.
One of the highlights on "XIV" is called "Fortune" - a song with a slightly different vocal line and excellent hooks. It's almost a bit jazzy.
Toto does what they can do best - writing really good songs with excellent arcs of melodies, rocking guitars and alot of thoughtfulness too. Fans of the band can go for the new album without hesitation. Good stuff and a brilliant translation for the 80's to the 21st century.
- Running out of time
- Holy war
- 21st cebtury blues
- Unkown soldier (for Jeffrey)
- The little things
- All the tears that shine
- Great expectations
Label: Frontiers Records