Toto
Isolation


5.0
classic

Review

by Sabrutin USER (7 Reviews)
June 26th, 2014 | 18 replies


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist

Review Summary: You learn from your mistakes.

Toto didn't need the formula to gain success: take a look at their first four albums and you'll notice yourself. You should have heard the chorus from "Hold The Line" one way or another, and you should have heard "Africa" too. Their work screams "radio-friendly" from every pore. The main problem is clear after the first time you listen to one of their older records: consistency. Take out the hits from them, and not much will be left. But now, for the fifth full length, it seems they have understood that the not-so-casual listeners want something more.

Isolation begins with "Carmen", which turns out to be a good opener. It's catchy and engaging thanks to the duet between David Paich (keys) and Fergie Frederiksen (the new singer hired after Bobby Kimball got fired), and it provides a good idea of what is about to come: the songs won't really slow down except for "Lion" (which is simply slower paced) and for the single true ballad of the album "How Does It Feel", making the entire work energetic and pleasant to listen to. Considering the high number of ballads Toto provided with some of the previous albums, having just one here feels strange. If we also consider that the song manages to be unforgettable, we find what makes this album better than all the previous ones: again, consistency.

Every song manages to get stuck in your head. If I could use only one word to describe this album, it would be "catchy". Everything, from the vocals to the instrumentation, is catchy. Speaking about the mentioned consistency, Toto keep firing one killer track after another. The first and only "letdown" arrives with "Mr. Friendly". While by no means a bad song, it's not catchy as the ones before. Don't get me wrong, this is not the reason why a song is worse than another. Simply put, "Mr. Friendly" can feel less inspired than the rest of the album because of its grower and more complex nature, but it should not be underestimated (the term "letdown" doesn't fit the song, but it should give the idea of what I mean). The two closing tracks can again count on an instant catchiness. Therefore, "Mr. Friendly" is only "penalized" by the fact that it's a little grower in an album filled with catchiness.

At this point, it may seem that Isolation is just catchiness. Sure, catchiness plays a huge role here (thanks mainly to Fergie Frederiksen's range), we are still talking about an AOR band, but the goodness of the instrumentation must not be forgotten. The bass (played by Mike Porcaro) gets the job done well, though it can get overwhelmed by the other instruments, especially in the choruses. Still, it provides a good punch to the songs. Listen to "Stranger In Town" and "Isolation" to have an idea. Speaking of the guitar work, Steve Lukather shines through the entire album and provides driving riffs ("Change Of Heart", "Carmen") and solos. Actually, the solos are often short, but have the right punch and are carried by the keys. A mention of honor goes in fact to the keyboardists: David Paich and Steve Porcaro not only help at giving an identity to each song, but often end up being the stars instead of Lukather ("Mr. Friendly", "Change of Heart" or "Endless"). Last but not least, Jeff Porcaro provides a good performance with the drumming, keeping it catchy yet aggressive without being overly minimal. Let's also mention that Frederiksen isn't the only vocalist. He not only gets backed by Lukather and Paich, but at times he even gets replaced ("How Does It Feel" is sung mainly by Lukather, for example).

There isn't much to complain about. Their lyrics are cheesy as always, but that doesn't mean they are bad. The tracks are ten, and the longest one ("Stranger In Town") lasts less than five minutes, making the lot not tiresome (just listen to "Endless") and giving it a lot of replayability. The only complaint one may have is that from Steve Lukather (called "the greatest guitarist on Earth" by Eddie Van Halen himself) one may expect more. But still, this is an AOR band and you should approach this album knowing that you are diving into something very radio-friendly.

In conclusion, we probably have the most consistent album of the band's career. It's catchy, it's energetic, it's highly replayable, it's solid, it's well played, and it provides a lot of rock anthems to sing to. Plus, it provides zero forgettable tracks. Singularly taken, the songs won't make a mathematical rating of 5, but after listening to them as an album (and after letting them grow properly) I feel that this work can really be described as a classic one.

Highlights (all tracks are recommended):
Stranger In Town
Angel Don't Cry
Endless
Change of Heart

Personally, my favourite one is "Endless". That chorus won't leave your head (as all the others, but this one in particular).



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user ratings (10)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
menawati
Contributing Reviewer
June 26th 2014


16057 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Have always rated Lukather but really hate this music. Solid review tho.

Digging: Lo-Pan - Colossus

BigPleb
June 26th 2014


37247 Comments


mena!

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins on Io

KILL
June 26th 2014


71965 Comments


fuckin toto

Digging: Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out

risingabove
June 26th 2014


75 Comments


after afrika

BMDrummer
June 26th 2014


8743 Comments


I have a friend who likes Toto, he also likes Asia

Ryus
June 26th 2014


3209 Comments


lol toto

Digging: As We Draw - Mirages

KILL
June 26th 2014


71965 Comments


taco>

MrSirLordGentleman
June 26th 2014


4566 Comments


I really like Toto's debut and Toto IV tbh

Sabrutin
June 26th 2014


932 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@menawati: Thanks!

I see, this band isn't really loved here. I can understand why, to be honest, but I have to say that I really like them despite their inconsistency.

@BMDrummer: I don't really hate Asia, but I don't like them that much. Oh well, it's hard for me to really hate music anyway.

@MrSirLordGentleman: I find the debut to be okay but way too bland. Manuela Run and Hold The Line rule though.

Digging: Riot V - Unleash The Fire

MrSirLordGentleman
June 26th 2014


4566 Comments


Toto has some classic songs, Asia on the other side, sucks. Hard

Sabrutin
June 26th 2014


932 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Heat of the Moment is considered their classic and I don't really like it a lot (I wouldn't hear it twice in a row). In the other hand, I can listen to a lot of Toto without stopping. So I can imagine why you (and a lot of people) say that.

Valkyrie from their last album is kind of infectious though. One day I'll take a look at their discography, but, how to say it, I'm not really in a hurry hahaha.

BMDrummer
June 26th 2014


8743 Comments


What I've heard from Toto is alright, just not a band I see myself listening to a lot tbh, and it's fine if you like them

MrSirLordGentleman
June 26th 2014


4566 Comments


Yeah, it's one of those innofensive bands that won't hurt or annoy anyone

manosg
June 27th 2014


6266 Comments


A 5 review for Toto? I thought this day would never come!

Not a big fan of the band but nice write up, pos.

Digging: Acrimony - Tumuli Shroomaroom

undertakerpt
June 27th 2014


1351 Comments


Totos live album: livefields is deffo a 5

Good idea - knife and fork

Bad idea - knife and dildo

TWIGtheWONDERKID
June 27th 2014


846 Comments


Good review, it almost got me to check the album out, but I think Toto is the kind of band that greatest-hits were made for.

Digging: Johnny Marr - Playland

undertakerpt
June 27th 2014


1351 Comments


Lion is a fucking hell of a tune, don't believe me? Check it out

Sabrutin
June 27th 2014


932 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@MrSirLordGentleman: I kind of like your definition!

@manosg: Thank you!

@TWIGtheWONDERKID: They are, indeed. That's why I love this album so much, for my likings is all killer no filler... which is unique for Toto.

@undertakerpt: Lion is actually the one I replay the least, but the chorus is quite the hook.




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