Toto - Through The Looking Glass

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Capitol/EMI
Catalog Number: 5421442
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:40:00

Could it be possible that the inspiration in the Toto household is at an all-time low? Fact is Through The Looking Glass is the band's first offering for their new record company EMI, yet instead of delivering some brand new material they have opted to unleash no fewer than eleven cover songs on the unsuspecting public. Certainly the word "cover" seems to be a magic word nowadays especially where the charts are concerned, but in the case of the multi-talented members of Toto this was not what I had expected.

So what have our boys chosen to tackle? Well, they've not gone for the strictly obvious by going for songs that they can add their own virtuosity to. Because every album needs a good single they have chosen a superb dance favourite in the form of Bob Marley's "Could You Be Loved" which, together with some deejaying by Tippa Irie and the swinging rhythm section, immediately invites you to boogie. It also confirms that they are world class session musicians. Having to choose just eleven songs out of the many thousands available, no doubt it was a painstaking experience for all the band members, who celebrate 25 years of Toto with this release. Being studio freaks, of course, their own tribute to Steely Dan had to be included. Toto's version of "Bodhisattva" really swings, including a funky, jazzy, be-bop guitar solo from Lukather. The craftmanship of Toto really shines when they try their hand at a George Harrison classic. The beauty of their version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" can be seen as a tribute to the late Beatle. The sparse keyboard interventions from David Paich together with the loops from Simon Phillips and the smoking guitar from Steve Lukather lift this version to a higher dimension, to the kind of song that could be chosen as a single, if ever they need to lift another song of the album.

No doubt the soul classic "I Can't Get Next To You" would have smoked even more had Toto collaborated with the Memphis Horns and/or if a really swirling Hammond organ would have been given the lead. Instead this piece of soul/funk remains simply good without becoming brilliant. In their selection of influential songs Toto hasn't gone for the commercial feel, for the kind of material everyone is waiting for. One of their heroes they went for is Herbie Hancock. No doubt the instrumental "Maiden Voyage - Butterfly" contains a mean bit of jazz, which allows David Paich to unleash his piano tricks onto us accompanied by some tasty brass, before evolving in kind of a Santana direction. The Elton John and Bernie Taupin penned "Burn Down The Mission" really gets the power treatment, but for me it's the band's rendition of "Sunshine Of Your Love" that stands out a mile and takes the song even further than the Cream original. The organ really puts life into the traditional "House Of The Rising Sun" with Bobby Kimball shining throughout. Bobby can put his microphone to one side as vocal duties during the Costello classic "Watching The Detectives" are taken care of by Steve Lukather. Still ingenious to hear how Costello managed to fuse new wave and reggae into a song which is acceptable to all music lovers. The album closes with my least favourite of the bunch being the Bob Dylan composition "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry" sung here not so brilliantly by David Paich but salvaged by the blues guitar from Lukather.

Through The Looking Glass sheds a different light on some of the world's best session musicians that have been gathered as Toto for no fewer than 25 years now. As a first release for their new record company, I would have expected something more original; yet as it stands, and as the band has never done this before, maybe we should just accept their little sidestep as long as they promise to get us some new original Toto material soon.

However, with a world tour that has just started, I'm afraid we'll have to make do with this collection of covers for a long time to come.

Could You Be Loved (feat. James Ingram) (3:47) / Bodhisattva (4:51) / As My Guitar Gently Weeps (5:15) / I Can't Get Next To You (4:04) / Livin' For The City (5:49) / Maiden Voyage/Butterfly (7:33) / Burn Down The Mission (6:28) / Sunshine Of Your Love (5:13) / House Of The Rising Sun (4:40) / Watching the Detectives (4:04) / It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes A Train to Cry (3:52)

Bobby Kimball - vocals
Steve Lukather - guitars and vocals
Mike Porcaro - bass
Simon Phillips - drums
David Paich - keyboards and vocals

Toto (1977)
Hydra (1979)
Turn Back (1981)
IV (1982)
Isolation (1984)
Fahrenheit (1986)
The Seventh One (1987) Past To Present (1990)
Kingdome Of Desire (1992)
Absolutely Live (1993) Tambu (1995)
Best Ballads (1995)
Legend: The Best Of Toto (1996)
Greatest Hits (1996)
XX (1998)
Mindfields (1999)
Livefields (1999)
Super Hits (2001)
Hold The Line - The Very Best Of Toto (2001)
Greatest Hits ? And More (2002)
Through The Looking Glass (2002)
Love Songs (2003)
Africa (2003)
The Essential Toto (2003)
Live In Amsterdam (2003)
Rosanna - The Very Best Of Toto (2005)
Falling In Between (2006)
Falling In Between Live (2007)
The Very Best Of Toto & Foreigner (2007)
Hit Collection (2007)
The Collection (2008)
Playlist: The Very Best Of Toto (2009)
Africa - The Best Of Toto (2009)
Gold - Greatest Hits (2009)

Genre: Rock

Origin US

Added: November 3rd 2002
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 1100
Language: english


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