Review: “XIV” by TOTO

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There are very few bands who are still jamming nearly 40 years after first getting together. TOTO, however, is one of those bands. It has survived bad reviews, the deaths of founding member, drummer Jeff Porcaro, and just last week his brother, bassist Mike Porcaro, (who lost his nearly eight year battle with ALS), lawsuits, and everything in between. Every time they get knocked down, members David Paich, Steve Lukather, Steve Porcaro and Joseph Williams seem to dust themselves off and come back with a vengeance. Their new album, TOTO XIV, is evidence of that.

TOTO albums usually open with a big, hard rocking track, and “Running Out of Time” is just that with a signature lick from Lukather. The bandtoto_by_heather_porcaro_hr
gets political on the hard-driving “Holy War,” and the ballad “Unknown Soldier” featuring a great vocal by Luke. They wrap their arms around the lonely on the excellent “Orphan” featuring the album’s best vocal performance by Williams. “Burn” is powerful track with a beautiful piano part played by Paich, who never ceases to amaze with his talent. They revert back to the days of the Farenheit LP on the Steve Porcaro penned love song “The Little Things.” Porcaro never had more than one song on any album, but they were always memorable and still some of the band’s best. “Chinatown” is vintage TOTO with Paich’s stirring piano opening, and featuring original TOTO bassist, David Hungate, who is also joining the band on tour. The ballad “All the Tears” features a stellar hook and “Great Expectations” starts off with Paich’s sad, lonely vocal and then got into another stratosphere in the same vein as YES. The final “bonus” track “Bend” is reminiscent of “A Secret Love,” the final track on Hydra.

It’s been nearly 10 years since TOTO released new music. In that time, lead singer Bobby Kimball left the band (again), Mike Porcaro was forced to leave the band due to illness, drummer Simon Phillips was replaced by Keith Carlock, and Paich and Steve Porcaro decided to return to the touring band to help raise money for ALS. Porcaro says this is no half-assed attempt to just put music out. He says in the band’s EPK that “everyone is playing like their lives depend on it.” It sure sounds like it.

Toto Official Website

“Orphan” by Toto

“Holy War” by TOTO

“Burn” by Toto

“TOTO XIV” EPK

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