Toto IV


Columbia, 1982

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


A lot of the Chicago fans on the message boards that I frequent give mighty praise to Toto. Those who are big fans of Chicago 17 saw Toto IV as comparable, although Toto won a few Grammys. Now, normally I don't base my musical purchases off award recognition, and this is why; having listened to Toto IV, I can again say that the Grammys are crap.

There are two songs on IV that stand head and shoulders above the rest. They are, no surprise, the two big hits. "Rosanna" and "Africa" are 80s pop at their finest, with incredibly immaculate production and numerous catchy riffs and hooks. The latter is textured with numerous layers of keyboards and synthesizers before reaching the soaring chorus. Sure, the lyrical references to Africa may be a little hokey, but the boys in Toto make it work.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"Rosanna" is the crown jewel of IV, it has been playing non-stop off my iPod for the past few weeks. Whether it's the hard hitting refrain, the sparse but effective guitar work, the blasts of horns every now and then, or the brilliant shifting in tempo and pace, "Rosanna" has to be one of the best pop songs to come out of the 80s.

Unfortunately, these two songs are the first and last of the album. The material in between is hit or miss, mostly miss. Being some of the most gifted studio session musicians of all time, the members of Toto sound professional, but the music lacks soul or passion.

The bright spots come with "Good For You" and "Afraid Of Love." The former reminds me of Bill Champlin-era Chicago material. It's fairly funky, especially with the fake horns that come in the chorus. "Afraid Of Love" is a straight-ahead rocker, impressive in that it probably took Lukather no effort but sounds so good.

The rest of the songs are standard 80s pop fare. "I Won't Hold You Back" had potential, but it comes off as too sterile and waaay too formulaic. This is the kind of song bands like Toto, Chicago, Journey, etc. could churn out in their sleep and send to number one on the charts. "Waiting For Love" reminded me of Hall and Oates, and not in a good way. "It's A Feeling" has a very interesting arrangement to start things off, but with no strong hook to grab the listener, it fades out of memory fast.

Toto was too talented to turn in a bad performance. However, that doesn't mean IV automatically works as quality album. On the bright side, this album contributed two pop gems that are up there with the best of the decade. It's just a shame the rest of the material didn't live up to the same standards.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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