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Toto: XIV

38 years...that's a really long time for any band to stay together, but it's the exact amount of time legendary rock act Toto have been delivering tuneful, melodic songs to their legions of fans worldwide. Though their career arguably peaked in the early '80s with their mega hit album Toto IV, they've never really released a bad album over the years, and just happen to be one of those bands who have consistently produced quality material year in and out despite their drop in mass popularity. Here we have the band resurrecting themselves yet again, a few years after hints from Steve Lukather that they might be 'done' after the release of Falling In Between in 2006. The line-up for XIV includes:

Joseph Williams lead vocals
Steve Lukather guitars, bass, vocals
David Paich keyboards, vocals
Steve Porcaro keyboards, vocals
David Hungate bass
Keith Carlock drums
Lenny Castro percussion
Tom Scott saxes and horn arrangements
Lee Sklar, Tal Wilkenfeld, Tim Lefebvre bass
Martin Tillman - cello
CJ Vanston additional synths
Michael McDonald, Amy Keys, Mabvuto Carpenter, Jamie Savko, Amy Wlliams background vocals.

As you can see, not only have the band recruited some heavy hitters to participate on the album, but there are also plenty of classic era members back on board. The loss of Simon Phillips on drums is a big blow, but new guy Carlock seems up for the challenge. As is always the case with any Toto album, you get a mix of hard rock, pop, melodic rock, and jazz-fusion/prog styled material, all of it memorable and instantly enjoyable. Lukather's crisp, virtuoso guitar work permeates most of the album, especially on rockers such as "Running Out of Time", "Fortune", "Holy War", and the smoky "21st Century Blues", which also features some cool sax from the veteran Scott. Even the ballads are quite strong, filled with alluring melodies and tasty keyboards from Paich & Porcaro, highlights being "Burn", "All the Tears", and "Chinatown". However, the real meat of the album happens to be the adventurous pieces that dive into somewhat progressive waters, like the layered textures of "Unknown Soldier" and the bombastic finale "Great Expectations", the latter one hell of a wild ride featuring all sorts of intricate guitar & keyboard passages as well as soaring vocal harmonies. Speaking of the vocals, Williams, Lukather, and everyone else sound spectacular throughout the album, perhaps making XIV one of the most impressive Toto albums in recent memory from a vocal perspective.

Plenty of nods to their classic era but still modern sounding, Toto have really hit a home run here with XIV. Anyone with an opinion that this band had run out of gas only need to give this one a quick listen to know that Toto still have plenty to offer, and let's hope they continue to do so for years to come.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing

Added: March 7th 2015
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 6414
Language: english

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Toto: XIV
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-03-07 15:16:33
My Score:

It really isn't all that long ago that it seemed we'd never have any more new music from Toto. In fact it isn't all that long ago that it seemed as though we'd completely lost the legendary band from the rock n' roll landscape altogether. However with Steve Lukather reinvigorated and re-motivated to raise the Toto banner once again, here we have XIV, the (you've guessed it) fourteenth studio recording from the band. Now comprising a line-up of Joseph Williams (vocals) Steve Lukather (guitars and bass) David Paich (keyboards) Steve Porcaro (keyboards) David Hungate (bass) and Keith Carlock (drums), Toto 2015 is a mix of mainstays, returning heroes and new additions.

There's no one else this could be, AOR of the highest order simply dripping from the punchy guitar driven "Running Out Of Time" and the atmospheric piano led "Burn", which morphs into the classic Toto build of power, strength and tenderness. Williams is immense throughout, his clear, crisp tones really bringing the great mix of driving rockers and sultry slower numbers to life. "Holy War" proves a highlight, while the wonderful "Orphan" which eases masterfully from beautiful and captivating to thrusting and jabbing, may be the best thing on offer. Lukather really shines throughout, combining with the keyboards masterfully and contrary to popular opinion, it is his energetic fret work which really causes Toto to tick. Never has that been more the case than on this album. "Chinatown" heads into the jazzy, WestCoast that this band have been so long associated with; a swaying beat and playful piano shuffle as seductive today as it was nearly four decades ago. However yet again Lukather rips out a solo that hits the mark spectacularly, this time refined and poised, as only he can.

There's no doubt that for some XIV will be "just another Toto album" and yet with the gentle eclecticism and outstanding musicianship on show, this album is really so much more. To this day countless bands try to ape this style and make it their own. However once more Toto have returned to show how it should be done. XIV is exactly how it should be done.

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