RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Toto: Toto XIV 
Frontiers Records

Rating: A

It’s been almost a decade since Toto released their last studio album, Falling In Between. That’s a long break between original efforts for any band. Granted, for a few years now Toto has toured the world playing their classic repertoire to appreciative audiences worldwide. They did this initially to help bassist Mike Porcaro with funding his medical treatment while fighting ALS. Sadly, Porcaro succumbed to the disease in mid-March. The band enjoyed so much success on the road that Toto decided to keep going. Fans have been treated to some fantastic DVD material, such as Live In Poland which shows this band is still capable of rising to the level Toto fans are used to experiencing.

However, performing in concert and writing new material are two entirely different things. The band has not written new material with this band member configuration since 1986. A lot happens over the course of several decades. Quality in the one area doesn’t guarantee quality in the other. It must be a bit unnerving to dust off the chops and see if the magic comes back.

Fortunately for Toto fans, it did. Toto XIV picks up where the band left off back in the day, and threw in some delicious new curves as well. The album starts with “Running Out Of Time”. It’s a great album opener. This song is high power, pure unmistakable Toto. The signature sound is still there. The quality of the songwriting is out front and the guitar chops are genuine Lukather. It really sets the tone for the rest of the album.

As with most of Toto’s works, Toto XIV contains a wide variety of material and some very deep introspection. They did not just pump out some absurd contract obligation material. It’s clear this band still has a lot to say and they’ve had a while to put their thoughts together. It’s great to hear a core group of individuals who have played together in various configurations for over forty years still be able to produce quality music that is instantly identifiable yet not one bit stale.

Aside from the core group Toto has enlisted the help of some fantastic musicians to complete the sound. Greats like Lee Sklar, Tom Scott, and Michael McDonald make solid appearances and really add to the openness of the music and the sheer musicality of the album in general.

Lukather says this album is meant to be listened to from top to bottom. He’s right. There are no throwaway songs. One thing is certain; Toto is not at a loss for powerful songwriting. They know what they have and are not afraid to open up. It’s a very diverse and well crafted disc. Toto XIV was worth the wait. The talent is still there and the material is fresh and highly enjoyable. The cats can still rock!

Track List:

  1. Running Out Of Time
  2. Burn
  3. Holy War
  4. 21st Century Blues
  5. Orphan
  6. Unknown Soldier
  7. The Little Things
  8. Chinatown
  9. All The Tears
  10. Fortune
  11. Great Expectations

      By Roy Rahl