It’s been thirty-five years since the release of Toto’s fourth study album Toto IV and it’s arguably the band’s most flawless album to date. It won them numerous Grammy Awards as well as reaching number 4 in the US Billboard charts. The richly infused pop, rock and jazz collection was in many ways their peak time and inevitably meant they would never reach that optimum level of success with any other album again.
Toto IV contains two of the most well-known songs written by Toto, “Africa” and ‘Rosanna’. Both combine David Paich with Steve Porcaro and the late Jeff Porcaro’s impressive keyboard and drumming skills, as well as the leading guitar riffs performed by Steve Lukather. From the occasional radio play to pop rock invasion, the release of Toto IV in 1982 took the band to new heights. With the rocky tones of Bobby Kimball holding the songs together, it adds to a masterfully put together album.
Reaching number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, “Africa” is possibly the most famous song the band have created. Composed by David Paitch and Jeff Porcaro the song holds a distinctive rhythm which enhances its uniqueness and bequeaths that ‘around the world’ feeling. As soon as the song begins listeners are left envisioning cruising down the abandoned highways amongst Africa’s wildlife. They create a cultural sound, Paich even stated, “It was really fun to experiment. Jeff even made some walking sticks, where he took two sticks and put bottle caps on the top and bottom like they do in South Africa, and you can hear them keeping the pulse in the opening.”
The distinctive synths and harsh rocky guitar riffs found in the instrumental combine to make a powerful, beguiling opener. ‘Rosanna’ was written by David Paich, who once jokingly stated the song was based on actress Rosanna Arquette, who was dating Toto’s keyboard player Steve Porcaro at the time. However it was later revealed, that the song was based on three different women he had dated, and he simply used Arquette’s name because it fit. The jazz influenced drum pattern and overlapping keyboard solos combine to create an effective, memorable beat.
From the buoyant rock feel to the gentler, romantic of songs, Toto includes it all. “I Won’t Hold You Back” encompasses a melancholy guitar solo resembling that of a Queen hit and creates that empathy feel of pain. Timothy B. Schmit, the warm-voiced member of Poco and the Eagles, is also featured on its soaring chorus, adding to the tracks certain flare.
‘Good For You’ is one of the lesser-known Toto tunes. Still this song deserves mentioning, as an extremely drum filled track, it is the best example to showcase the talent of Toto, with the included combination of so many well-liked styles. It presents’ Kimball in his reckless and edgy brilliance as well as coalescing the seemingly effortless musicians behind him. Containing climbing synths, a propelling, unforgettable chorus, leading to a soaring solo from Steve Lukather at the fade, it definitely presents with it an alluring R&B style.
Toto IV will forever be remembered as the bands most classic masterpiece, the album, now over 35 years old, still has that edge and is most certainly must in any rock pop collection.