I’ve been having a really hard time with this one. Not because I have writers block or because I don’t know how to say exactly what I want to say but because I’ve been put into a position I haven’t really been in before… giving my first perfect 5 out of 5 review.
Despite the can of worms this might open up within our staff, I have come to the conclusion that since I’ve been working on ROCKEYEZ, I haven’t come across an album more deserving of a 5 out of 5 than Toto’s “Falling In Between.”
This is just about as close as you can get to an absolutely perfect album. For its genre, this is WAY beyond my “Holy Shit!” rating I have spoken about in past reviews and, as far as AOR, hard or melodic rock, there’s nothing out there that even comes close.
“Falling In Between” is astounding and as a band, Toto is just about one of the tightest, most talented bands ever assembled. One of the most amazing things about Toto is that there are five… yes FIVE lead vocalists (on top of their regular instrumental duties) who can be singing at any time! And it’s not far fetched to hear three or four of them on a single track. Some people might think that with five different styles or influences going on throughout a release it could become a bit of a mish-mosh or overbearing. It’s not! In fact, the voices blend so beautifully and naturally that it becomes an absolute feast for the ears and produces some of the most brilliant, melodic harmonies I have ever heard.
Not since “The Seventh One” has Toto been able to completely replicate that special magic for an entire release. Lead guitarist and vocalist Steve Lukather has never sounded better (in either aspect) and “Falling In Between” has brought forth some of his most progressive and heavy guitar riffs ever. Not to overshadow the return of original lead vocalist Bobby Kimball whose voice sparkles on just about every track whether he’s singing lead or somewhere in the background. Now with Lukather and Kimball reunited with drummer/percussionist/ programmer Simon Phillips, bassist Mike Porcaro, keyboardist/vocalist David Paich and newcomer keyboardist/vocalist Greg Phillinganes, this is definitely the most potent and powerful Toto lineup ever.
The opening and title track “Falling In Between” is a fierce, guitar-driven medley only featuring an actual vocal part the first half of the song. After that, Lukather rips into an
aggressive guitar instrumental backed by layer upon layer of heavy progressive keyboards. Kimball’s voice is impeccable on this very harsh, heavy and “different” Toto track. This leads into “Dying On My Feet”… a little more laid back track featuring a strong melodic chorus and an incredibly harmonic guitar break.
“Bottom Of Your Soul” is the longest track on the CD… over 7 minutes in length and launches you way back in sounding very comparable to something off their triumphant “IV” release. Even the drums have hints and undertones, which remind me of their Grammy Award winning “Africa.” The chorus is smooth and soulful really emphasizing on just how amazing all these vocalists sound together and will have you searching through your pockets for that old lighter again in no time.
“King of The World” turns it up a notch again with some brilliant percussion and keyboard parts and a chorus, which reminds me a bit of something off of “The Seventh One.” “Hooked,” on the other hand, grabs you with its extraordinary composition featuring all the vocalists combined in a forceful, in-your-face chorus. It also brings out some of Porcaro’s funkier bass riffs and, again, exudes and incredible guitar solo… compliments of Mr. Lukather.
The next track, “Simple Life,” changes the pace of the CD just for a moment. With some very nice acoustic guitar work and a prominent piano melody, this is one of the more “ballady” sounding songs but builds to a superbly executed climax you’ll be disappointed to hear actually end.
“Taint Your World” kicks “Falling In Between” back into high gear and is almost strangely reminiscent of mid-80’s Van Halen! Taking over the “mike,” Phillinganes adds his vocal talents to the funkier “Let It Go.” This is another great track with an awesome groove; powerful chorus and a melodic bridge that will just about make your jaw drop in absolute awe… these guys are good!
Some soft bongos, some light piano and a little soothing, soulful guitar lead you into “Spiritual Man,” a mildly religious track which almost sends chills up and down your spine. Tom Scott joins the band on this one to add some stellar tenor sax to one of the most passionate and operatic tracks on the CD. Lest I forget to mention a chorus which, with the addition of vocalist Monet, sounds like it’s being sung by an entire choir!
Finally we come to “No End In Sight” which, I hope, is a little “tongue in cheek” message because if these guys can keep coming up with albums like this, there really is “no end in sight” to what these guys can accomplish. It starts off a bit slow with Lukather on the verses and Kimball on the chorus’ but you’ll be hard-pressed to hear where the transition actually happens. This eventually builds to a grand finale which will make even the most demanding music fan stand up and take notice.
“Falling In Between” is just about an instant classic! You ever hear the expression, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time?” Well… Toto does their best to reverse just that. With it’s high-powered riffs, riveting chorus’, layers upon layers of melodic harmonies, some astounding percussion and a production value that’s second-to-none, “Falling In Between” is without a doubt Toto’s best effort to date. Moreover, you’ll have a hard time getting this CD out of your player once it’s in there. Yes… it’s that damned good! Believe me… if you are a fan of AOR, melodic or hard rock, you NEED this one in your collection!
- Steve Lukather - guitar / vocals
- David Paich - keyboards / vocals
- Mike Porcaro - bass
- Simon Phillips - drums / percussion / programming
- Bobby Kimball - vocals
- Greg Phillinganes - keyboards / vocals
- Falling In Between
- Dying On My Feet
- Bottom Of Your Soul
- King Of The World
- Simple Life
- Taint Your World
- Let It Go
- Spiritual Man
- No End In Sight