TOTO is one of those bands in the pop rock / AOR arena that i have heard hits of but not albums. Most of the time when i finally do come across the album of a pop hit or two that i really dig, i more often than not find the singles to be the best tracks on the album. Especially in the case of this kind of pop rock crossover with easy listening that easily calms the casual grocery shoppers in the markets.
Well, such is not the case with TOTO IV. I have been a long time fan of the three singles i’ve heard. “Rosanna” is a gleefully rockin’ celebration of a past girlfriend with that catchy half-time shuffle drum pattern and “Africa” which is my all time favorite song by the band has one of the catchiest keyboard riffs and harmonizing vocal tracks in all of pop history. The song was a huge hit and even topped the Billboard charts but always seemed like a strange track to be such a hit. I still don’t get what it means.
After finally checking out this album i was quite shocked that there is not one bad track in its entire run. After listening to TOTO with a more careful ear it is apparent that the band was highly influenced by the jazz rock of Steely Dan and likewise the sophisti-pop of Donald Fagan as heard on tracks like “Waiting For Your Love.”
I admit it. I was expecting pure cheese, some of which i like but it has to be a special kind of cheese. On this there is none of that. This is well written pop rock with excellent instrumentation and outstanding vocals. Surprised by this find and realize i have to explore TOTO beyond the mere Greatest Hits CD that has been my only exposure to so far.