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Toto: Falling in Between

Falling in Between in Toto's first album in seven years and what a great return it is. With new keyboardist Greg Phillinganes (Phil Collins, Eric Clapton) on board, the band sounds tighter than ever, having written some of their finest songs in a long time. There is so much to enjoy on this disc which might quite possibly be one of Toto's most diverse releases in their long career.

With ten songs and an impressive list of guest musicians, the album makes a solid start with the title track, featuring a distinct Eastern vibe, great vocals, melodic guitars, and a superb keyboard lead by Steve Porcaro. The song both rocks and visits dreamy soundscapes before it ties in with the more progressive rock number "Dying on My Feet", a piece highlighted by terrific vocals, awesome harmonies, and an exceptional horn section at the end. Former Toto singer Joseph Williams appears on the slowly-building "Bottom of Your Soul", with his vocal melodies evoking Jorn Lande's powerful performance on Ark - Burn the Sun. Williams fits the mood of this track perfectly, which utilises a tribal rhythm anchor, hand drums, and mood-intensive acoustic passages. Some chanted Indian vocals add to the track's ethnic characteristic, before multiple vocal lines are exchanged and lead to Steve Lukather's Floydian slide guitar solo over a moving piano melody.

David Paich is the highlight of "King of the World", a dynamic song that recalls Asia's most brilliant era. Paich's vocals are going to appeal to fans of 80's pop meets AOR melodicism with its shimmering key layerings; while "Hooked" is a semi-electronic, hard-rocking number guesting the amazing Ian Anderson on flutes. The album maintains its flow through and through, displaying its different aspects with each track: "Simple Life" is the Lukather-sung acoustic love ballad with an eerie percussion planted deep in the mix; while "Taint Your World" wouldn't seem out of place on the first Van Halen album had it not been for its 70's analog synths and occasional sound effects. One of the most playful songs on the album, it mostly stands out for its amazing run-out solo where Lukather truly steals the show. However, the best guitar song on the album has got to be "Let It Go", delving into the depths of funk-rock, employing a groovy bass motif by Mike Parcaro and out-of-this-world drumming by the amazing Simon Phillips. This album is proof why he is among the most creative and unique drummers in the world. I simply love his work on Falling in Between, mainly because I had no idea he was so good at world music beats as well. "Spiritual Man" is a bit like "Simple Life" in the way that its vocal melodies are so beautiful and gripping that other bands could only dream of writing stuff in this vein. Add to this the brilliant saxophone lead that widens the scope of the song.

Truth be told, I didn't think I'd be so pleased with a Toto album again. This simply came as a great surprise and will surpass many of the year's melodic rock releases.

Track Listing

  1. Falling in Between
  2. Dying on My Feet
  3. Bottom of Your Soul
  4. King of the World
  5. Hooked
  6. Simple Life
  7. Taint Your World
  8. Let It Go
  9. Spiritual Man
  10. No End in Sight

Added: April 18th 2010
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Score:
Related Link: Frontiers Records
Hits: 3920
Language: english

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Toto: Falling in Between
Posted by Steve Fleck, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-04-18 11:45:20
My Score:

****Updated 2010 review******

Released: Feb 2006 / Produced by: Steve MacMillan

Likely recorded swan song for the band runs musical gamut and pulls out all stops. Taps prog rock (paint-peeling title track), tribal rhythms ("Bottom Of Your Soul"), stadium rock ("King of the World"), jazz-fusion ("Let It Go"), and R&B ("Spiritual Man")—all with aplomb. Only dog is whiny protest rocker "No End In Sight". Where Mindfields was stiff & Tambu droning, FIB sounds like a bunch of legacy-assured pros having a blast. Flat out Van Halen tribute "Taint Your World" makes things even looser, tho may raise eyebrows. Guest appearances abound, tying things up with a vocal by Joseph Williams, percussion by Lenny Castro, plus flute by Ian Anderson, backing vocals by Jason Scheff of Chicago, and coolest of all—Jimmy Pankow (founding Chicago member) pens and plays hellacious horn chart in "Dying On My Feet." Greg Phillinganes on keys and vocals is welcome addition. Even David Paich emerges from vocal exile to sing lead on 2 tracks. Notable as first album without band production or co-production credit. If this is it for Toto, what a way to go out. Highly recommended.

Toto: Falling in Between
Posted by Steve Fleck, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-06-01 06:07:15
My Score:

Enigmatic 80's band Toto has released their eleventh studio album, Falling In Between, not with a bang, but with a curious whisper.

Since sweeping the Grammy Awards in 1983 with their breakthrough album Toto IV, the band has survived the death of a founding member, the drug-related expulsion (and eventual re-hiring) of it's original singer, employed 4 other singers, and switched record labels 3 times. Formed from a core of five of the most respected LA studio musicians in the world, having been the backing band or co-writers with consecutive Grammy Award winning acts, with ten top 40 hits of their own, Toto still inexplicably struggles for musical credibility--within critical as well as commercial circles.

Former celebrated studio musicians David Paich, David Hungate, Steve Lukather, and brothers Steve & Jeff Porcaro didn't count on the inevitable implosion of the "label system" in the late 80's & early 90's. The very system that hired them to perform, write, arrange, and produce some of the biggest acts of the 70's & 80's (Boz Scaggs, Steely Dan, George Benson, Michael Jackson) quickly collapsed due to a failure to recognize & develop/promote new talent. Soon, upstart independent labels were sprouting up everywhere and, emboldened by new computer software that made record producers out of pocket-protector geeks, flourishing. Gone was the need for credible studio musicianship, replaced by the almighty drop-down menu option known as "cut & paste." Virtuosity gave way to technology, and musicians were the first to suffer.

Old school players like Toto found it difficult to secure profitable record deals in the late 80's. So, after their departure from Columbia Records in 1988, they started releasing independent albums that freed them from the creative chains placed on the music by the "suits." When you finance your own project, you become the executive producer, and what you say goes. Much like Britain-based contemporaries Marillion, Toto has survived the past 10 or so years by touring where they are appreciated (mostly Western Europe & Asia) and by calling their own shots. Unlike the "glory days," however, they lack the punch of major label promotion.

Which is not such a bad thing. In addition to likely cutting a better deal on unit sales (higher percentage of profit on lesser sales as opposed to very low profit on large sales), creatively, it can be argued that Toto has never been freer—or more experimental. Falling In Between certainly illustrates that.

The title track sounds more like 1994 Dream Theater than "Rosanna." Drop D tuned, guitar-heavy verses separate middle-eastern influenced choruses, balanced by an aggressive, decidedly more gruff (he's in his 50's) Bobby Kimball vocal. "Dying on My Feet" is more groovy & familiar, but a guitar-heavy mix clues you into the about-face final minute, which features a blistering horn chart penned by Chicago trombonist Jimmy Pankow. "Bottom of Your Soul," with its Lukather lead vocal, could have easily fit on 1995's Tambu; here it's welcome Eagles-style CA rock (& features former singer/writer Joseph Williams). "King of the World" reprises one of Toto's strengths during the 80's—the triple-lead vocal. Lead by a welcome return to the mic by an admittedly older-sounding David Paich (think Bob Seger's "Night Moves" compared with "Like A Rock"), Lukather & Kimball harmonize this average material to higher ground. Paich, the de-facto creative leader of Toto in the 80's, has given way to Lukather in the 90's to the present.

As with Pankow & Williams, guest appearances enhance Falling In Between. "Hooked" combines the mood & tone of recent Mark Knopfler solo efforts with a Big 80's Power Station-style chorus. Former keyboardist/founding member Steve Porcaro's swooping synths during the break, and Ian Anderson's guest "flauting" is at once surprising & plain cool. "Simple Life" is the ballad that didn't need to take 5 minutes & span 3 key changes: it's 2:22 & haunting. With "Taint Your World," Toto does Van Halen. Seriously. It's in the liner notes. And it almost works (but not quite—even though they borrowed one of VH's best grooves from 1978's "I'm the One").

Only fans (or those that read the liner notes) will recognize the reprisal of the riff foundation of "Let It Go," borne of an instrumental track on the obscure 1991 Relativity release "Kingdom of Desire." But here it's just a starting point—newcomer (to Toto, not to music) Greg Phillinganes takes the lead vocals and, armed with his well-known jazz chops, kicks it up. Technically the standout on the album, "Let It Go" in the hands of songwriters as opposed to technical "bashers," importantly also holds up as good track. Simon Phillips on drums does equal justice to stop-start high hat & loose ride-groove. Monster though Phillips is (albeit less so on this album), let it be said that Jeff Porcaro's early departure from life robbed music of one of the most fabulous natural grooves on the planet. Considering the thousands of hit records he played on, you figure he's going to be missed for a long, long time, even before pro-tools loving, drum machine purveyors of schlock realize they were wrong.

The dog on the album arrives late: "No End in Sight" is a bit shortsighted, and never matches the quality content of the rest of the album.

Initially Japanese-released, Falling In Between is available in a domestic version, and though not easily found in record store bins, its worth searching for; the trade off for a band like Toto's virtual survival in today's commercial musical climate.



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