Review Summary: 40 Years of Toto
One of the hardest things about writing a review of something; whether it be a book, music or anything, is trying to keep from getting too personal in your review. The main reason is that it can cloud your judgement with bias, leaving the credibility of your review in question (see my half-assed review of Sodom's Decision Day
for a proper example) When it comes to Toto, I find it very hard to not get personal with this band as they are one of my favorite Progressive Rock bands ever.
Fact is, as much as I try to hide it, I am irritated. Recently, Toto's seminal opus Africa
has gotten a wave of attention, becoming a large internet meme and being covered by numerous bands and artists. To add to that popularity, even Weezer released a cover of Africa
to substantial views and success. Yet, none of this attention has trickled back onto Toto. Unlike Jim Croce's recent resurgence, where his appearance in Stranger Things contributed to renewed interest in the artist and his music; Africa
's recent attention has resulted in almost nothing beneficial to the band. In fact pretty much any sales Toto has had of their new material recently has been entirely of their own making through many live shows and quality music.
It does irritate me, because this excellent band deserves so much more than they are being given. Weezer's cover of Africa
reaches over 5 million views on youtube, but Toto's official release of a brand new song barely scratches 600K. Hell, I even had a discussion with a person who loved Weezer's cover of the song, but was completely shocked when he found out the original song was by Toto, as he thought the song had been by Foreigner all these years. 36 years after Toto IV
and this band still has to claw tooth and nail to get any sort of recognition; it's baffling. Despite all of this, Toto continues to trek a revival of their music. The first was Toto XIV
, an incredible new album featuring the return of Joe Williams with the band at their most creatively intense since the late 90's. The second, released in February, is the brilliant compilation 40 Trips Around the Sun
, an album that shows just what this new revival of Toto is capable of.
As it is a compilation album, the album picks some the best tracks of their 40 years as Toto; these include Toto stalwarts like I'll Supply the Love
, Hold the Line
; but it also has some lesser appreciated hits like 99
, Georgy Peorgy
, and Jake to the Bone
. One minor criticism of the compilation I have is that it mostly contains tracks from their debut and 80's records, leaving excellent songs they made in 1990's absent entirely. Even with such a minor criticism, this is still an excellent compilation. Yet the re-released songs aren't the driving force behind this new album, it is the three unreleased songs never heard of before.
The first one is a brand new track titled Alone
, a track with sonic guitar riffs, an arena-like effect with excellent vocals by Joe Williams who continues to prove he has not lost a single step in the vocals department. The big standout of this new track is the keyboards by David Paitch, who takes center stage with numerous effects and keys providing a colorful background to the guitars. The second track is a previously unreleased track called Struck by Lightning
. Unlike Alone
, Struck by Lightning
is a much heavier track with heavy focus on the guitar work by Steve Lukather and drums by Vinnie Colaiuta. Speaking of which, Vinnie's drum work on these new tracks is nothing short of excellent, with him hitting the rhythm on point in each track. Vinnie's more heavy, tribal-like drum pounding really adds to the power of these new songs.
The real standout of the three tracks is Spanish Sea
, a song that was originally recorded during the Isolation
sessions, but didn't make it to the final product for reasons I will never comprehend. Featuring thumping drums, erratic and extravagant keyboards, lean synth sounds, Glam-Rock guitar riffs, and soaring vocals; Spanish Sea
is a time capsule of the 1980's brought to life with modern vision.
Make no mistake, this new era of Toto is only just beginning. Regardless of whether or not an internet meme will translate to newfound popularity; Toto is here to stay and I don't see another hiatus on the horizon any time soon. With the band planning a large tour in support of this compilation and a possible 15th album in the works, I think it's safe to say we are experiencing a new revolution around the Earth from Toto. 40 Trips Around the Sun
isn't an acknowledgment of a bygone era that can never return, it is a proclamation; a proclamation that this album is just a halfway point, and Toto isn't done with us yet.