Toto, ‘Toto IV’ (Columbia, 1982)

Sure, they’re professional; we can’t all be (nor should we want to be, or just have) scruffy rumors. In fact, I’ll argue that professionalism this shiny never sounded so good. There’s no doubt here, no rough edges (hi Doobies!), no neuroses (hi Fagen and Becker!): this is all gleaming LA studio surfaces made by guys who were such pros that Quincy Jones hired them to play on Thriller. Think about that for a minute: Toto was basically MJ’s backing band. And you can hear precisely why on this six-time-Grammy-winning (including Album of the Year), unassuming monster: the ’70s Chicago-isms of “Good for You,” the Doobies-isms of “Make Believe” (a relative flop, hitting #30 on the pop chart on the back of the #2 smash “Rosanna”), the smoother-than-smooth “Africa” (their only #1), even the poppy AOR of “Lovers in the Night.” They didn’t hit these heights before or after this behemoth, but what studio perfection, the essence of El Lay in the early ’80s.

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About thomasinskeep

I write about music.
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