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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Toto

Falling In Between Live

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve never seen Toto live, but I’ve always enjoyed their music. I’ve only ever owned a handful of the albums and had kind of written them off, but I’ve always respected them as musicians. Well, I wrote them off too early. This live disc is well recorded and the performances are top notch. I don’t think anyone can argue with this band’s ability to play. They are one hot unit. I do have a few qualms with the CD, though. For one thing I think (while I know Steve Lukather’s guitar work is incredible and a major asset to the band) we could use a bit less of Lukather’s soloing and a bit more “songs.” I think that the time devoted to the extended soloing could be curtailed a bit and give more time to do some more fleshed out versions of tracks only touched on in the medley or perhaps even work in another track or two. The fiery soloing is probably a big plus in the live performance, but on a live CD set it gets a bit overdone.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Falling In Between
Percussion and layers of voices bring this one in. Then it powers out with the rock and roll sounds. The cut modulates between these elements for a time before bursting out into a killer hard rock groove. They work it out into a middle Eastern sort of sound for the chorus. This is a great tune and an excellent choice to open the show and the CD.  It alternates between these two elements to create the rest of the track, getting quite powerful at times. There is some excellent guitar work here and some awesome vocal lines. They also turn in a funky sort of fusion-like jam later in the number. We also get some exceptionally tasty prog-like sounds in the course of this extended jam.
King of the World
This has a great fusion sort of sound and is a killer rocker. The lead vocals are quite soulful at times. The whole song has a power and energy that’s remarkable. The layers of vocals on parts of this lend a whole new dimension to the sound. They drop down for a fusion sort of interlude later in the piece and then come back out with a new energy. Steve Lukather puts in an incredibly fiery guitar solo later in the cut. This is another killer on a set that has no shortage of them.
Pamela
They turn it a bit bluesy with this tasty grind. This still has some funk in its midst and is a smoking pop-rock tune that works quite well. The band show that they can take a fairly simple tune and make something very special out of it. That’s talent. The song includes a powerhouse vocal performance, some stellar guitar work and extremely tasty keyboard showing. All combine with a well-written song to make this one another scorcher. They drop this back to a cool blues jam for the conclusion. It’s a nice touch and turns very jazz-oriented.
Bottom of Your Soul
Percussion leads this off and then keys join, followed by the guitar. It’s got a cool jazz sort of groove as they build up. The vocals join and we’ve got almost a world music ballad feel to the show here. It’s a good way to cool things down about after three powerhouses. This features some intricate guitar work and a dramatic, yet understated arrangement. The vocal performance is emotional and strong. When they power it up for the chorus it’s in a classic Toto wall of sound motif. They alternate between these two sounds as they carry on then turn in a killer bridge with layers of vocals and other elements combining to produce a huge sound. This sounds sort of like the best of Sting’s music.
Caught in the Balance
The opening elements here call to mind The Police just a bit. As they grow from there it turns more toward typical Toto music. This is mid-tempo and a rocking sort of number. The chorus on this is very catchy and anthemic. Very classic rock in texture, this one isn’t quite such a fireball as some of the other music here, but it’s still extremely potent. The guitar solo outro here gets a bit noodly and I could have done without it.

Don't Chain My Heart
Here we get another smoking, bluesy jam. This is a killer piece that is just plain mean. It’s good ole blue eyed rock and roll with its foot firmly in the blues. This isn’t anything incredibly unique, but it’s really well done.
Hold the Line
The first of three Toto super-classics on this set, it seems likely that most people have heard this one. It’s a classic pop-rock song. They deliver it with passion and power and I’d say it’s a step or two above the studio recording we’ve all come to know. The vocal performance in particular is killer.
Stop Loving You
The keyboards start this off in a bluesy groove. When the band jump in it loses a bit of its edge, but none of its “cool.” This is a tasty fairly mellow pop rock groove with a lot of blues at its core.
I'll Be Over You
This classic ballad is delivered with style. The audience is asked to help with the vocals and are happy to oblige. It leads straight into the next number.
Cruel
Starting with a gospel sort of keyboard sound, this is a killer bluesy jam with lots of funk in the mix. This is another case where the song itself isn’t anything overly original or unique, but the delivery is exceptional and makes it a killer piece.

Greg Solo
Here we get a keyboard solo that combines emotion, technique and melody in fine fashion. I’m actually reminded a bit of Keith Emerson at times on this. It gets quite jazzy at points.
Disc 2
Rosanna
They start this off a bit differently, with a bit of a bluesy twinge. They infuse an almost jazzy atmosphere here, too. I think this is a major improvement in terms of the arrangement over the studio version. And yeah, I’m betting you know this song – unless you live in a cave somewhere and then you probably don’t have internet. After a verse and chorus they power it out into something more like the studio recording, but with a lot more crunch. The instrumental break on this track always bordered on progressive rock and its even more so here. They also add a second instrumental break on this, an old school bluesy jazz jam. Pretty much everyone gets their chance to shine and solo on this extended journey and it finally takes the track out.
I'll Supply the Love
This rocker has the 1980’s stamped all over it. It’s a killer tune, though and is delivered quite well here. This is kind of a second tier Toto hit and hasn’t suffered from being overplayed like some of the rest of their music. It’s kind of a shortened version as they rush us through a blast from the past kind of experience.
Isolation
Here we get another smoking rocker, with just a hint of the blues in the mix here. This has some great guitar work and a classic vocal line. It’s a good sign of just how hot this band really is. A little longer than the rendition of “I’ll Supply the Love,” they still come in at less than three minutes here.
Gift of Faith
Another hard rocker, this one gets a short treatment, too. This has a classic rock texture with some blues in the mix. It’s kind of a hard edged ballad in a way. You know that old hard rock style.
Kingom of Desire
In some ways, this feels like a crunchier take on the previous track. It’s another short visit in the course of this long medley. I hear a bit of Whitesnake on this song. Drums take this late and hold it til Steve Lukather comes in for his solo.
Luke Solo
With the drums that ended “Kingdom of Desire” accompanying him, Lukather enters with waves of chorded, jazz-like sounds. He works his way around in a very fusion-like approach. He’s got a serious groove going on this and the bass joins to help accompany him. He gradually builds up a bit further into the crunch and the power, in much the same way Al Di Meola would build his tunes in a steady upward motion. The keys join once Lukather is purely on fire. My thing is, there’s no disputing Steve Lukather’s talent and this solo is purely incendiary, but it’s six minutes long, while the “songs” around it around running two and three minutes. I think it would have been better to have an extra song or two or a little bonus time on the tracks and cut Luke’s solo down just a bit.
Hydra
Hydra has always been my favorite Toto album, even though it’s one of the more often overlooked one. The title track is delivered here in all its progressive rock inspired glory, but it’s also a very short bit. This instrumental builds and flows, but never really gets far due to the short duration. This does merge in and hold as the backdrop for Simon Phillips’ solo.
Simon Solo
I’m not a big fan of drum solos. This one is good, and they keep it reasonably short. The other nice thing is they work it into the central riff from “Hydra.” That repeated keyboard riff does start to get a bit old after a while, though. Lukather joins late with a killer hard edged riff and the band move off in a new direction from there.  A reprise of the previous elements takes us out.
Taint Your World
This is frantically fast and hard edged, perhaps a bit like Van Halen. It’s a smoking rocker. Once again they only stay on this one for a couple minutes. The chorus of this even sounds quite a bit like “Panama.”
Gypsy Train
They give us a full song here rather than a little snippet as part of a medley. This one comes in with more of that Van Halen-like guitar and this is a Zeppelinesque rocker as the main riff kicks in. It’s another bluesy jam that works quite well. This one is far from weak, but it’s also not one of the more dynamic tunes on show. My thought is that other tracks could have used a seven minute treatment before this one. And the thing is we get a couple more extended Lukather solos here. Again, the man is a guitar god, but he already took up six minutes of the medley, do we need two more long showcases here, too? I suppose if you were at the show and caught up in the heat of the moment this would be pretty awesome. Sitting at home listening to it it doesn’t hold up as well.
Africa
The final massive Toto hit on the set, “Africa” is delivered here with a solid performance. There’s a bit of “going through the motions” feel to it at times, though. It’s a great tune, but you get the feeling that they might be a little sick of performing it. It sounds great, anyway, though. The band seem to get caught up in it as it goes along, though. The performance in the latter portions in top-notch. It seems to keep growing in intensity.
Drag Him To the Roof
This final cut is another smoking rocker. It’s one of the stronger cuts on show here and really pulls things together nicely. It makes for a great closer. It’s not immune to the overabundance of soloing, but it holds together better than some of the other material (which at times can feel like nothing more than bookends on a solo). The audience sing along is kind of a “had to be there” thing.
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