Lots of people already thought that Toto was over and done as their previous album Falling In Between dates from 2006!! But the band members of Toto that can be heard on 5000 albums, selling more than half a billion records are back with their fourteenth studio album. Toto in 2015 includes classic era members Steve Lukather (vocals, guitars, bass), David Paich (vocals, keyboards), Steve Porcaro (vocals, keyboards), David Hungate (bass) and singer Joseph Williams. The last one mentioned also did the vocals on Fahrenheit (1986) and The Seventh One (1988). Unfortunately power drummer Simon Phillips is no longer a band member as he is replaced by Keith Carlock, who played with Steely Dan and Sting.
The eleven new songs on Toto XIV are again an almost perfect blend of hard rock, melodic rock, pop rock, blues, jazz-fusion and prog styled rock and all the songs are very recognisable and utterly Toto. Furthermore I can truly say that there are no weak songs on the album, although some people might find there are too many “soft” tracks, ballads, on the album.
XIV kicks off with the melodic, rocky guitar driven Running Out Of Time and this song “proves” that Lukather probably is the driving force behind this album. There really is plenty of guitar on this album and especially in tracks like Unknown Soldier and Great Expectations Lukather's guitar solos, riffs and melodies really shine.
The album has a couple of surprises, as for the first time since Toto IV (1982) Steve Porcaro sings a track, being the beautiful The Little Things. Furthermore you can hear shared lead vocals by Paich, Williams and Lukather in Chinatown (one of the ballads), and this is for the first time in the 38 year history of Toto! The other ballads Burn and All The Tears, amazingly sung by Paich, are real AOR-like melodic songs filled with lots of keyboards from Porcaro and Paich. But I prefer the rocky tracks like Fortune, Holy War and the bluesy 21st Century Blues, which even features a saxophone solo by Tom Scott. However the absolute highlight for me is the last track Great Expectations, an epic track of almost seven minutes, which is almost bombastic and filled with great melodies, solos and soaring vocal harmonies.
I really think that Toto has done it again; as I feel that XIV is their best effort since Toto IV. So, play it loud and enjoy it! Toto is back; really well worth checking out!!
The Box Set edition comes with deluxe CD/DVD, vinyl, t-shirt, poster and lithograph.
**** Martien Koolen (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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