TOTO: Mindfields (Legacy)Every so often, a CD comes into the office that is just begging to be reviewed. Sometimes, they're from a well-known artist. Sometimes, they're by a band you've never heard of. This time, the disc comes from the first category. The new Toto album is so good, it's practically a crime to overlook it. I know what you're thinking--why am I raving about a washed up 80's pop group? There are several reasons. First off, Toto is not a washed up 80's pop group. They never were. They rock. Ask anyone who's been a fan from the beginning. Secondly, and most importantly, their latest CD is great. Thirdly, original lead vocalist Bobby Kimball is back in the fold after a 16 year 'vacation.' The band's original drummer, the amazing Jeff Porcaro, died a few years ago, but was replaced by Simon Phillips. Phillips doesn't play with the 'in the pocket' style of Porcaro, but he does a great job nonetheless.

Mindfields was originally released outside the US in May of 1999. It took another 6 months to be released here in the states. Unfortunately, it went completely unnoticed amidst all the Britney Aquileras and BackSync Boys on the charts. For some reason, Legacy rearranged the track listing on the album, but added a bonus track, "Spanish Steps of Rome," in the process. The disc gets off to a great start with "Cruel," and doesn't let up for the next five songs. "Caught in the Balance" is a rocker, along with "Mysterious Ways." "After You've Gone" and the title track are both highlights as well, and we're not even halfway through the CD.

"Selfish" is the first track that doesn't measure up. It's not bad, but it's not as good as the rest up to this point. One of the bests tracks on the CD is "No Love," (with Clint Black, of all people, on harmonica!), followed by the nine-minute over-the-top blues workout, "High Price of Hate." Anyone who thinks of Toto as just a pop band needs to hear this song. Steve Lukather soars on the guitar as always. "Mad About You" is the first real pop song here, and the first single (outside the US anyway) from the album. Looking for the trademark Toto ballads? "Last Love" and "Melanie" in particular, are just what you're looking for. Great melodies, and beautifully arranged by the band.

As the CD winds to a close with "One Road" and "Better World" (I'm not counting Spanish Steps because it was originally left off the CD), you find yourself wondering how in the world this album can possibly not be all over the radio. The musicianship and songwriting throughout the disc is outstanding. Even though the band has been around for over 20 years, Toto's music has risen to a whole new level. And the fact that Bobby Kimball is back on vocals just makes it that much better. Fans of the band will no doubt already have this CD (if not, they should). For anyone who thinks they know what Toto sounds like, you haven't heard them till you've hear Mindfields. Don't let the fact that radio stations aren't playing it dissuade you from adding it to your collection. This is easily the band's best effort to date.

© 2000 Steve Marshall

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