TOTO XIV Reviews Thread

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TOTO XIV Reviews Thread

Postby The_Noble_Cause » Sat Jan 17, 2015 2:07 am

Will update and post more reviews as they are published....

http://www.melodic.net/?page=review&id=83766
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Re: TOTO XIV Reviews Thread

Postby The_Noble_Cause » Mon Jan 19, 2015 8:12 am

"I think we should all sue this women for depriving us of our God given right to go down with a clear mind, and good thoughts." - Stu, Consumate Pussy Eater
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Re: TOTO XIV Reviews Thread

Postby The_Noble_Cause » Fri Jan 23, 2015 2:40 am

"I think we should all sue this women for depriving us of our God given right to go down with a clear mind, and good thoughts." - Stu, Consumate Pussy Eater
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Re: TOTO XIV Reviews Thread

Postby The_Noble_Cause » Sun Jan 25, 2015 7:03 am

"I think we should all sue this women for depriving us of our God given right to go down with a clear mind, and good thoughts." - Stu, Consumate Pussy Eater
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Re: TOTO XIV Reviews Thread

Postby MarcelJordan » Sat Apr 11, 2015 3:01 pm

From an Amazon member:

Toto are musicians of great virtuosity, individually they are all lauded by their peers, earning most musicians respect. CJ Vanston says, "There have never been better musicians on the planet, especially in a band together". As individuals, the band members have amassed sales of over half a billion albums (yes BILLION) & 225 Grammy nomination! That alone makes it ironic that critics love to bash them as "studio musicians who never paid their dues". Toto have paid high prices for being so talented & often their record labels have undervalued them or refused to back them. This time Frontier Records thankfully had Toto on a two record deal, which sealed their reformation & this record. Let us hope it gets the promotion it deserves. One thing I am certain of, this will get more Grammy nods. If I am wrong, well read my review, listen for yourself & if you think I am wrong suggest what I need to do if not nominated for at least one Grammy in the comments section.

As many I did not expect this album, unlike most Toto fans I did not raise my expectations as in the past I have expected the impossible. However, with original Toto members Steve (Luke) Lukather, Steve Porcaro, David Paich, David Hungate on this recording the old school friends are back & to my ears this is the best album I have heard for a very long time. Original member Jeff Porcaro died in 1992 due to tragic circumstances, a reaction to insecticide, he is irreplaceable. Even before he joined Toto, Simon Phillips was my second favourite drummer after Jeff. He did a great job filling the drum stool in previous recordings & I miss him. However, Keith Carlock (Sting/Steely Dan etc.) is on this record & his talent is incredible. His style is more like Jeff's; he does not play to be flashy but to compliment the other musicians. When you have musical talent such as Toto, it is incredible that they do not have massive egos but all work off each other towards the sum of all parts. Bobby Kimball is no longer the vocalist (sadly his voice was showing strain the last few times I saw them live) but the return of Joseph Williams will please many of us fans. While "Toto IV" is the best seller, most fans probably believe "The Seventh One" with Joseph Williams on vocals was Toto's best. Sorry fans I think we were wrong, "Toto XIV" surpasses even that high benchmark. Here we have, with the exception of Jeff, the strongest Toto line up ever. I have been listening to this recording for a while now taking the time to compare it to previous recordings & allowing it time to settle & for me to stop grinning like a fool. The return of Joseph is an unexpected blessing but he like most other members have known each other from High School age so they are not a "manufactured record label session band" but musical brothers who respect each other - yet also fight about creativity as brothers would. When I saw the co-Producer with Toto was to be CJ Vanson I was disappointed thinking he did not have what it took to resolve any creative disputes. How wrong could I be? CJ Vanson has to have a lot of credit & I owe him an apology, in pre-release interviews, Luke credits him with being "almost a referee", now that is a difficult job with these musical abilities.

We could have expected more-of-the-same & the last Toto release "Falling In Between" was a great album. Having personally owned a record label, produced, managed, I got out when ProTools took over & we entered the age of "manufactured music". To my ears that "manufactured sound" polished to the point of boredom & never pushed musicians - it did not need to; it even killed off a lot of the session scene. "Falling In Between" was a musician's album & though very successful, in Europe & Asia particularly, I could only barely imagine it being played on radio. I may be wrong but "Toto XIV" sounds as if it has the right mix of musical ability, "ProTools" polish & if it does not get radio play, I would be surprised. Some say it is "over-produced", "badly mastered" or "mixed for loudness" etc. It is none of these & not over polished but is well balanced yet at the same time a very contemporary sounding Toto. Mastering, loudness etc. have changed; some of us have refused to change with it. Luke commenting on this review shared with me "some of these have 150-200 tracks a song on them with parts coming in and out. ... It is the 30 cycle to 15K range that 90% of all CD's and digital music cut OFF at mastering therefore if you don't (have) a VERY powerful power amp the sound will fold and sound compressed. We added ZERO compression to this record in mastering!!" Toto, despite a combined age of (let us not say), do not sound in anyway "dated". Talent does not go out of style but styles change & here you have a record that covers many musical styles in a way that challenges & thrills yet is mixed/mastered/produced in a contemporary way.

Now for the music:

"Running Out of Time" (Written by Steve "Luke" Lukather, David Paich, Joseph Williams) The opening cut, it makes a statement of intent with Lukes signature guitar riff, pulsating bass played by Tim Lefebvre, allows Keith Carlock a great opportunity to shine. This song rocks so if you only like Toto ballads (as some do) this is not for you. It sets the scene that they intended & finishes with the lyric "you'll be on your way" & we certainly are.

"Burn" (Williams, Paich) They may have penned the track but, with Toto, I am sure they all contribute a lot after the demo was submitted. "Burn" starts as a subtle track giving Joseph opportunity to show his vocal strength before it bursts into a surprising rock refrain. I know Toto respect Elton John & in some ways, far more than the title, it sounds to me a nod to "Burn Down the Mission" but yet is very different at the same time. This was the first track that I found myself humming after getting the album. Leland Sklar, what a bass player!

"Holy War" (Vanston, Lukather, Williams) addresses a very real artistic need to ask questions. The best art always reflects something of society & Toto ask what do we fight for & why? Musically I love it; lyrically it is brilliant, "All in the name of peace & love". It is almost spiritual in the way it gets us questioning, "what are we fighting for?" I have always wanted Toto to make a stronger stand lyrically & it does just that. This album finally has Toto putting lyrical emotion with the music & that has been missing on too much of their output. Steve Lukather said on his website, "It's a comment on the way some of us are using God as an excuse to kill people. They're missing the whole ... point. The first commandment is `Thou Shall Not Kill.' There's no asterisk by the side saying `Except in certain circumstances,' Y'know, all this `My god is better than your god.' We have moved backwards." Wow, do we need that message on the radio these days! Some label Toto prog-rock, that makes me laugh as they are also jazz, AOR, blues rock, even a touch of gospel & so many other styles but the ending is certainly a prog-rock moment, nothing wrong with that.

"21st Century Blues" (Luke, Vanston). Once more lyrically, they hit the right spot, "how can we believe the world is round? It is hard to conceive it". Blues & Gospel are musical twins & Toto update the tradition of Blues musically while lyrically asking Gospel like questions; "how many people gotta die before we lend a hand, I can see myself living in their promised land, someone help me." Luke shines on the guitar but while it is a strong song & Luke also does a great job vocally, some have suggested it could just have easily been on one of his solo releases. However, the horns kick in & you know this is Toto. They have always had incredible musical guests on their albums but some have journeyed with them for a long time. Tom Scott comes back to once again complement & complete the Toto sound as he has since Toto IV, if for no other reason this is why it is rightfully a Toto release & not a Luke solo. It is also the first track David Hungate plays on & he does not disappoint. "We got the 21st century blues", they certainly have & Paich's keyboard shows his virtuosity without showing off. Even the old organ; classic!

"Orphan" (Paich, Williams, Luke) This is the first radio release off the record & is incredibly catchy. Again, a lyrical message spot on & timely for the world "you are never alone in the world". David Paich has done some great work with the UN, which seems to have influenced this & other songs. Lyrically Toto have never sounded stronger. Some interesting musical changes & great bass by Luke! Here is a good point to introduce percussionist Lenny Castro another member of the Toto family & such a great talent. Having Castro here is also a full circle for Toto as decades ago he play a Diana Ross session with Jeff Porcaro who got him on Boz Scaggs Silk Degrees tour. That tour led to the formation of Toto & although he has not always been available, he has always been Toto's first call percussionist.

"Unknown Soldier (For Jeffrey)" (Paich, Luke) This finds them in a contemplative mood & Luke on main vocal duty. However, it builds into a positive musical feel. Martin Tillman plays cello bringing memories of Mike Porcaro who played cello on Toto IV. With Michael McDonald on backing vocals once again connecting the dots to Toto's past releases. Michael McDonald (Doobie Brothers/Steely Dan) sang backing vocals on "I'll Be Over You". I have had few chances to talk to the members of Toto but one time in Cebu, Philippines we stayed in the same hotel & wifi was only in the lobby. Suddenly I looked up to see Luke sitting on the table next to me. He was willing to talk & I was pleased to get answers to a few questions. Luke also once sent me an email after an article I wrote about "Only the Children". If another opportunity presents itself this is the song I want to learn more about. Almost certainly, it was written with Jeff Porcaro in mind. He was seriously into researching the civil war but it is more than that. Jeff was also good at drawing & I would have liked to see one of his pictures on the cover but that is just wistfulness. Listening to this I remember visiting Jeff's grave, it took me an hour to find, as the cemetery is very large. I have walked around many large cemeteries but the most harrowing are war cemeteries with so many "unknown soldiers".

"The Little Things" (Porcaro, A. Willis) While I feel like saying welcome home Steve Porcaro, he has always been a part of the Toto family. However, the last time he served lead vocal duty for Toto was on their best seller "Toto IV", I have missed his vocals. In the press release back in January Toto made a big thing of this album being a 'Spiritual Successor' to Toto IV. This is the first track that really had me remembering how much I enjoyed "Toto IV", yet I believe I may be listening to this release even more than Toto IV. When Steve sings: "What I have been looking for all my life is right in-front of me," he sounds happy to have fully re-joined his musical family. The father of the Porcaro's & the father of Paich have a rich musical history that they passed on down a generation, having Steve & David reunited is beautiful but Mike is missing. So much of this album seems influenced by Mike but this song got to me. Anyone of us who has had a friend/relative seriously ill or die will know; it really is the little things we miss. Excuse me while I blow my nose, getting emotional here.

"Chinatown" (D. Paich, M. Sherwood) Did I just write "Spiritual Successor to Toto IV"? This song could have been on "Toto IV" & would have charted high. I miss Jeff Porcaro (RIP) I started playing the drums heavily influenced by him frustrated that I knew I would never be 1% of the drummer he was. Simon Phillips wisely never tried to sound anything like Jeff. If he had the pain would have been too much, that is how much of a loss he was. "Chinatown" had tears in my eyes, as I would have sworn Jeff was back on drums. So many years have passed since Jeff's death but thank you Keith Carlock, words fail me, but I can almost see Jeff smiling down blessing Keith joining Toto. We also have that rare Porcaro shuffle & a mention of a dragon, which will have true fans smiling at the "Hydra" reference. This is an old school Toto track breathing fresh air.

"All the Tears That Shine" (Paich, Sherwood) A beautiful ballad - thankfully not named after a girl this time! I have always enjoyed David Paich vocals & wish he had sung more. As so many of the members sing this contains some beautiful sung harmonies. Whereas, once upon a time, David was the default songwriter, it is no surprise that so many of the band now write. Tal Wilkenfeld guests on bass for this & the next track, good choice. Once again, it has a lyrical strength to it but Toto manage to sound questioning/reflective, not preachy throughout the album.

"Fortune" (Williams). Some interesting Steve Porcaro touches on this. While David Paich is a virtuoso on the keyboard, Steve has a great ear and creates amazing soundscapes. While you could argue that no band needs two keyboard players with midi these days, they work so well together approaching music from different places complementing each other. As with all great musicians, they make this complex musical track feel easy to play. Good guitar solo from Luke as well with some familiar Toto flashes from all of them. Michael McDonald & Amy Keys complete this with background vocals

"Great Expectations" (Paich, Williams & Lukather). One thing has been missing so far, that is a song where Toto have room to stretch musically, even show off a little - THIS IS IT! Toto have suffered from unrealistic "Great Expectations" in the past. In my imagination, I see Toto deliberately ending with this track as it rounds off the record exceeding all my personal expectations. Some great changes of musical style & a deliberate nod to Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull etc. many of whom Toto members had opportunities to work with. However, I also get a sense of J S Bach as well! Seeing as Toto members have played on over 5,000 records & garnered so many Grammys it is no surprise that they end the album with a track for musicians. Critics, this is the time for you to apologise. After almost 40 years Toto are standing strong with "one million reasons for us to believe". The only thing I have agreed with some critic on in the past has been Toto's lack of lyrical stand, well critics be damned, this album has lyrical boldness. I guess critics will now say the lyrics are too demanding; well they met & surpassed all my expectations.

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