For a few years at the end of the 20th century it seemed that Toto and the AOR scene they sprang from would remain forever in a shaggy-permed time capsule. What fools we were to write off officially ratified timeless soft rock classics such as Africa and Hold The Line.
Those two are naturally included on this new compilation, but of more interest to long-time fans will be the trio of new songs written by the current line-up, featuring founder members Steve Lukather, Steve Porcaro and David Paich alongside their post-Bobby Kimball frontman Joseph Williams.
It’s easy to forget that Toto were always more than just a rock act. Even vintage-era hits such as Georgy Porgy and Rosanna remind us here that they always liked to weave disco and R’n’B elements into their sound. But later genre-hopping cuts found here have aged less well. The soul-pop of 1988’s Pamela and 1992’s jazz-funk instrumental Jake To The Bone are expertly crafted, but Toto always sounded best with one foot on a rock touchstone.
The new tracks back up that impression further, as Struck By Lightning is underpinned by gutsy riffage and Bonham-esque thunder drums as Williams’ falsetto-ish vocal reaches for the higher emotional registers.
Dramatic chimes of piano also give Alone a pleasing urgency, and the woah-oh choruses of Spanish Sea, punctuated with fizzing synth breaks and monitor-perching guitar solos, show Toto have themselves concluded that visceral punch as much as pop charm is what they’ll be remembered for.