LABEL: SONY MUSIC WORLDWIDE
Produced by: Toto
I was really looking forward to this album, especially after the disappointing Tambu record and the 'fans only' Toto XX release.|
The guys were being backing by Sony, they have original singer Bobby Kimball back in the fold - they were ready to rock!!
Except, they don't. And that is why I am once again left disappointed after several listens to the new studio album Mindfields.
There are certainly enough good points here to talk about and I will get to them, but this album is too laid back. There are a couple of all out rockers, great tracks, but the majority is quite restrained. The other slight problem is the length of the tracks. 13 tracks shouldn't seem to much, but with several tracks over 6 minutes, it does run too long.
I am not sure of the final running order or even if all tracks here have made the final cut of the album. So I will just run through the 13 tracks I have and describe what I hear.
After You've Gone is a big moody Lukather ballad, very representative of any track from his last solo album Luke. 6:37 in length. Nice ballad and good vocals.
A little experimental at the end with some interesting drum rhythms and some Indian influenced guitar picking. However I hope that this is not the way they will chose to open the album. Better off doing that with the next track.|
Mysterious Ways is that track and sees the come back of Mr Kimball. And in fine voice he leads this jazzy hard rocker that will please any Toto fan. Funky, hard and jazzy all in one. Everything a Toto song would be. Possible single. Great guitar solo. I love it!
Mind Fields is an 'old' style Toto track. Sounds like it could have been lifted from any of the early albums. Plenty of keyboards and laid back rhythms and guitar riffs. Mid tempo. Traditional fans should like this return to the roots. At 6:00 it's too long.
High Price Of Hate is a different style again. Clocking in at 9:49, this is way too long! But it is musically more interesting than the title track.
Bobby Kimball puts in a tough vocal, screaming and stretching his voice at times over this slow, hard and bluesy number.
Lukather gets to play his Stevie Ray Vaughn best with a blues solo that is backed by some cool organ. Big, long, bluesy.
Selfish is another good uptempo funky hard rocker in the vein of Mysterious Ways. Good vocals from Kimball and some hard riffing from Lukather.
No big chorus or usual harmonies, just a raw fast paced and live rocker.
No Love sounds a little more recent style Toto. More a Tambu sound with Lukather back on vocals. Typical Toto harmony chorus with some harmonica thrown in on this mid tempo rock track. Pretty good, but not outstanding.
Caught In The Balance however, is outstanding! This Kimball led track is one of the highlights of the album. Starting slowly with some soloing, the track then moves into prime moody Lukather mode. Kimball sings strong, but restrained.
The chorus rises in anthem-ish fashion and Lukther gets more room to move. Strong and exactly what you want from Toto. Strangely, at 6:21, this track doesn't seem long enough!
Last Love unfortunately slows things down again, just as they were getting going. This is another moody Lukather ballad. Average verse, but a pretty good chorus. Slow tempo, but some nice organ again.
Mad About You is promising from the start with a nice little guitar riff and some chord changes that suggests this will be an anthem ballad. Indeed it is, a feel good uptempo ballad with Kimball singing a killer chorus and some heartfelt lyrics. Great stuff. Bridges, rising vocals and plenty of harmonies. Maybe a little Seventh One in it. Classic Toto.
One Road is a fairly heavy mid tempo rocker, again sung by Kimball in that moody Lukather style of vocal. An OK track, not as memorable as some others on the album.
Melanie is a big Lukather power ballad. Nice track and a great ballad. Very Tambu / Seventh One.
Cruel is another big jazzy, bluesy mid tempo rocker. Not bad, but probably for older fans and die hards. I didn't get into this one a lot.
Better World is the kind of track you can only end an album with. At 7:41 it's fairly long and totally indulgent! Lukather fans will enjoy several long solo's. The tune is mainly instrumental, but at 7 minutes plus it has room for plenty of vocals as well. Mainly a Lukther vocal, this track has big guitars, big piano and big backing vocals. Then it just ends!
Mindfields touches over several styles and is like listening to a history of the band. There are tracks that represent the early years (the pomp and the jazz), there are smoother Westcoast tracks like the Seventh One and Fahrenheit years and then there is some modern bluesy and AOR tracks, like Tambu and Lukather's solo records.
While this diversity is welcome and actually gels quite nicely across the whole album, the main problem is lack of energy in the tracks. Live maybe a different story altogether and if I was in the touring path of the band wouldn't miss it for the world.
So unless I am in the mood there will be a few tracks I skip here and some others I will play quite a bit. Kimball makes a welcome return and I think older fans of Toto will like this more than the more recent or 80's coverts.
Where as the Fergie Frederiksen album was also soft, it differed in that it's songs retained the interest of the listener from the start to the finish.
Released in Europe March 3 and 8, Japan March 10 (with bonus track), UK April 5 and North America May 5.
|PRODUCTION: 81%||SONGS: 73%||VIBE: 66%||ATTITUDE: 64%||ESSENTIAL FOR: Most Toto and Steve Lukather fans. Bobby Kimball fans.|
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