CD Review of Falling in Between Live by Toto
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Toto: Falling in Between Live

Reviewed by R. David Smola


ost folks probably don’t realize it, but Toto kept making records and touring well after their commercial apex of Toto IV in 1982. The post-IV releases have ranged from the brilliant (1992’s Kingdom of Desire, 2006’s Falling in Between), the good (1986’s Fahrenheit, 1996’s Tambu) and the forgettable (2002’s Through the Looking Glass, 1999’s Mindfields). They’ve also gone through more vocalists than The Red Hot Chili Peppers have had guitarists; however, since 1999, original lead singer Bobby Kimball is back in front of the microphone, although I would argue that the best vocalist in the band has always been guitar superstar Steve Lukather. He has been the voice on a majority of the band’s best material, and is also the one constant in Toto. Keyboard player David Paich has not toured for quite some time because of health and personal issues, although he does contribute to the recorded material. Lukather has been there all along.

Falling in Between Live is the latest of four live releases, joining 1993’s Absolutely Live, 1999’s Livefields, and 2003’s Live in Amsterdam. There are things to not like on this latest live record – to begin with, on several occasions, the band mails it in on some of the hits. “I’ll Be Over You” clocks in at a feeble 2:29; “Stop Loving You” is only 3:33; “I’ll Supply the Love” is an emasculated 1:56, and “Isolation” is 2:50. Those efforts sound as if the band can’t wait to get to the other material. The mix is also uneven – guest bassist Leland Sklar (who’s played for almost everyone, and is subbing for the injured Mike Porcaro here) is underrepresented, while Lukather’s guitar is a little too loud.

The two-disc set is saved by the fact that the later material, particularly the songs from Falling in Between, is strong, and the band sounds juiced to flex its collective musical muscles. Lukather delivers the heavy riff on the title track with precision and glee. “Bottom of Your Soul” is a terrific ballad that Lukather sings perfectly. “Kingdom of Desire” is another highlight with a strong Lukather solo. The collection features two other solos, one for keyboardist Greg Phillinganes and one for drummer Simon Phillips. Each offers something remarkable and unique because, even though they have one of the worst names in band name history (Toad the Wet Sprocket holds the record), the group is comprised of some badass musicians. Listening to Simon Phillips play drums is always a good thing; besides keeping excellent time, he’s always adding interesting fills. Kimball and Lukather sound as if they are at the end of their rope vocally, extending themselves to the very end. They sound as if they are giving it everything they have, and that passion substitutes for the decrease in range.

It may not be a great live record, but it’s still a pretty good one.

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