By Jay Roberts
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
TOTO – IV (1982)
The first Toto album was a big hit for the band, but after the next two albums weren’t as successful, the group had one last shot to hit it big or face being dropped from their label.
The pressure of having to create music that will please a large audience might crack any performer but Toto rose to the occasion and gave music fans 1982’s IV album.
If you are the least bit familiar with Toto, then you’ve certainly heard their two most successful songs. “Rosanna” opens the album and “Africa” closes things out. If you were only interested in those particular tracks, the cassette makes it easy to play the first, then flip it over and essentially play the second right off as well.
Now, I’m a big fan of both songs. Whenever I hear them on the radio I still harken back to the days when I would listen to the track on the radio in my room at the time and sing along with each verse. Not that I was any good at it but I got the joy out of the song regardless.
I’ve owned this particular cassette for decades and while I probably should upgrade, the fact that I didn’t lets me write this article and come to realize that I really didn’t pay much attention to the rest of the material on IV.
I never realized that they had five singles released. And while “Waiting For Your Love” didn’t make a dent in the charts (which isn’t surprising because it fell flat as I listened to it), the other four songs certainly did. “Rosanna” went to #2 while “Africa” became the band’s only #1 hit.
But what I never knew before now was how “Make Believe” became a Top 30 hit (and was actually released before “Africa”.) I vaguely remember the uptempo number but hearing it now gave me a new appreciation for the song. Oh, and the ballad “I Won’t Hold You Back” was went to #10. I remember the song well enough but since I haven’t paid enough attention to the album and the track listing in all these years, I didn’t remember the song was on this album. Instead, my familiarity comes from the fact I hear it on the radio station that plays at my job. The song is really low-key but rather enjoyable.
The surprise of the album’s first side for me was the song “Good For You”. A lively quick pacing had me tapping my foot along to the music and it was almost like hearing the song for the very first time.
I will say that I wasn’t all that fond of “It’s A Feeling”. The big reason for that was the completely undersold way the vocals were performed. I know that Toto is sometimes referred to as “soft rock” but this was just WAY too soft for my tastes.
The album’s second side started off superbly with the catchy beat of “Afraid Of Love”. It’s a pretty standout song really. But the weird thing is that it doesn’t really seem to get a proper ending. Instead, the next song “Lovers In The Night” seems to just start as one flowing from the other. That might’ve been okay if I’d like the song but I really got nothing out of it.
But you soon forget that when you hear “We Made It” which is another bit of lively rock and roll from the band.
It’s no great shakes to say that IV is Toto’s most famous album and that it is jam-packed with a host of great songs. Both statements are solid facts. But if like me, you haven’t spent years obsessing over the band’s music, it is quite the nice experience to learn or perhaps be reminded that the album not only stands the test of time but is always waiting there for a new generation of listeners to discover of their own accord.
NOTES OF INTEREST: The IV album was certified triple platinum in the U.S. and has reportedly sold 12 million copies worldwide since its release. Rock Candy Records did a reissue of the album in 2015.
Timothy B. Schmit from The Eagles sang backing vocals on the songs “I Won’t Hold You Back”, “Good For You” and “Africa”.
Singer Bobby Kimball was fired from the band two years after the release of IV, but returned to the band a second time for a 10 year stint. Reportedly, he’s battling dementia now.
Toto is reforming after a hiatus but only guitarist Steve Lukather and singer Joseph Williams are listed as current members of the band.