Moonflower Lane Toto (Columbia) 1978

1.      Child's Anthem [instrumental] (2:46)
2.      I'll Supply the Love (3:46)
3.      Georgy Porgy (4:09)
4.      Manuela Run (3:54)
5.      You Are the Flower (4:11)
6.      Girl Goodbye (6:13)
7.      Takin' It Back (3:47)
8.      Rockmaker (3:19)
9.      Hold the Line (3:56)
10.     Angela (4:45)

Toto's self-titled debut album is mixture of 70's pop, soft rock, R&B and some hard rock influences and synth sounds. The album opens with a progressive instrumental. The first actual song gives a good indication as to what the album as a whole sounds like. "I'll Supply the Love" is 70's rock song with some funky guitar work, congas and a big pop hook in the chorus. The song definitely sounds like a product of the times. For the most part, the songs are all very pop oriented. The minor hit "Georgy Porgy" is pure 70's radio pop. This is the type of stuff you'd hear at dentist offices on those "soft rock" radio stations. Definitely a product of the times. Other songs like "You Are the Flower" are pure, smooth rhythm and blues. The song is keyboard driven and features some nice flute work. "Girl Goodbye", despite a song title that makes it sound like it's some sappy radio ballad, is a progressive rocker that is just over six minutes long. The song could have been recorded by Kansas or Styx and is probably one of the best hidden gems on the album. Sure, the lyrics are ridiculous, but who cares? It's rock and roll, it's not rocket science. Of course, the standout track from this album is also the big hit "Hold the Line". This song is a rocker and has a massive, monstrous hook that embeds in your brain like super glue. Unfortunately the song is one of those that is massively overplayed on rock radio. Still, there is no denying that it's a great song and helped push the sales of this album. Overall, Toto is fairly mellow, melodic affair and won't appeal to fans of hard rock and heavy metal. However, those who appreciate softer music every now and then, this album will make for a good listen.

Isolation Toto - Isolation (Columbia) 1984

1.      Carmen (3:25)
2.      Lion (4:46)
3.      Stranger in Town (4:47)
4.      Angel Don't Cry (4:21)
5.      How Does It Feel (3:50)
6.      Endless (3:40)
7.      Isolation (4:04)
8.      Mr. Friendly (4:22)
9.      Change of Heart (4:08)
10.     Holyanna (4:19)

"Isolation" was Toto's follow-up to the massively successful "Toto IV". The album sports one of the worst album covers to come out of the 80's. If Toto were attempting to return to a some of their rock and roll roots, you wouldn't know it by the silly pop cover art. The music definitely sounds like a product of the 80's from the heady keyboards to the pop song structures to Kimball's high wails. The songs are a bit more guitar oriented than some of Toto's back catalog, but still nothing really touching hard rock. This is definitely 80's pop rock. A few songs have that soul and R&B sound that Toto explored in their early years as well. "Isolations" is the first Toto album to feature new singer Fergie Frederiksen who replaced Bobby Kimball. Frederiksen is a smooth tenor with a big AOR voice, fitting in quite comfortable in with bands like Foreigner, Asia and Journey. Surprisingly, there is only one ballad on the album – the melancholic Steve Lukather penned "How Does It Feel". For whatever reason, guitarist Steve Lukather also handles lead vocals on this song. The rest of the album is fairly upbeat pop rock.

A bit of trivia about "Isolation", this is one of only 2 Toto albums that feature all 3 of the Porcaro brothers (Jeff on drums, Mike on bass, and Steve on keys) as full members of the band.

Fahrenheit Toto - Fahrenheit (Columbia Records) 1986

1.      Till the End (5:27)
2.      We Can Make It Tonight (4:16)
3.      Without Your Love (4:33)
4.      Can't Stand It Any Longer (4:38)
5.      I'll Be Over You (3:50)
6.      Fahrenheit (4:39)
7.      Somewhere Tonight (3:46)
8.      Could This Be Love (5:14)
9.      Lea (4:29)
10.     Don't Stop Me Now [instrumental] (3:05)

Listening to this CD for the first time I was hard pressed to believe that this is the same band that recorded the classic "Hold the Line" eight years prior. This album is about as far away from hard rock as one can get. "Fahrenheit" can best be described as a collection of soft pop songs, ballads and easy listening with a some jazz influences. At times I was wondering if I was listening to a George Michael CD ("Can't Stand It Any Longer" & "Fahrenheit") while at others, I was wondering if I had tuned into some soft jazz radio station. In particular, the last song "Don't Stop Me Now" is a 100% jazz instrumental and includes musical guests Miles Davis and David Sanborn. This closing track is perhaps the best and most interesting song on the album. Don Henley ("Lea") and Mike McDonald ("I'll Be Over You") make guest vocal appearances on this album, most likely singing background, harmony vocals. I listened close to "Lea" and couldn't pick out Henley's distinctive voice. "I'll Be Over You" is a super-sappy, sticky-sweet ballad that charted on the Adult Contemporary charts. Songs like this are the stuff that make most rock and metal fans run screaming for the hills. Album opener "Till the End" is a funky pop rock song complete with a horn section that isn't far off from what I would expect from a Phil Collins solo album. Overall the entire album is rather soft, mellow and slightly jazzy.

Seventh One Toto - The Seventh One (Columbia) 1988

1.      Pamela (5:11)
2.      You Got Me  (3:11)
3.      Anna (4:58)
4.      Stop Loving You (4:29)
5.      Mushanga (5:35)
6.      Stay Away (5:31)
7.      Straight for the Heart  (4:09)
8.      Only the Children (4:11)
9.      Thousand Years (4:53)
10.     These Chains  (4:59)
11.     Home of the Brave (6:51)

"The Seventh One" is Toto's appropriately titled seventh studio album. It is an ultra-slick, 1980's pop album. There is little on here that would compare to a rock song like "Hold the Line". That's shouldn't be too surprising as Toto are not really known for being a hard hitting rock band to begin with. Their reputation is that of a soft-rock, R&B and pop. Much of "The Seventh One" attempts to cash in on ballad hits like "Africa" and "Rosanna". "Anna" is a super-slick, super-sappy, unfortunately generic, radio ballad that is certainly an attempt to reclaim the hit status of "Rosanna". Unfortunately, it sounds like it could have been recorded by any number of 80's AOR bands. "Mushanga", on the other hand, is the band's attempt to re-write their mega-hit "Africa". This song at least has some of Toto's charisma built into it. I suppose if radio hits are what you are trying to come up with, then ballads in 1988 are the right way to go. Oddly enough, neither song were released as a single. "Pamela" was the only single released on the album and it reached number 22 in the Billboard charts. It's a slick, melodic pop song with a funk groove and some R&B style horns. "Stop Loving You" sports some funky bass and is 80's made-for-contemporary-radio pop rock. "You Got Me" is another funky-based pop song. It sounds like it could been written by Michael Jackson. Even the vocals have an uncanny resemblance to Jackson. For actual rock songs, there is "Stay Away" and "Only the Children". Neither venture into hard rock, but stay within the confines of the slickly produced tracks. Overall, "The Seventh One" isn't a bad album, if anyone is a fan of 80's pop, though it is somewhat generic sounding and no-where close to rock and roll. I can't imagine many fans of hard rock, progressive rock or even classic rock fans taking a shine to this. Classy cover art recalls the band's classic self-titled record.

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