Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Toto - Isolation (1985)

In 1982 Toto won album of the year for IV and seemingly swept the grammies. Coming off the success of that album, the expectations were high for these veteran studio cats.

Unfortunately, difficulties would strike the band shortly after the release of IV. After nearly completing Isolation, lead vocalist Bobby Kimball was fired for drug abuse issues (incidentally, Kimball was invited back into the band in 1998).

The search for a new lead singer was not an easy one. Toto's first choice for a replacement was Mr. Mister's Richard Page. Page turned them down preferring to record and perform music he'd written rather as opposed to having to do Kimball-karaoke.

Drummer Jeff Porcaro received a tape of Louisianna bayou rock band, LeRoux and was quite impressed with their tweeter-frying lead vocalist, Fergie Frederiksen. So, after only one album with LeRoux, Frederiksen packed up and headed for Los Angeles to front Toto.

Frederiksen's vocal stamina and acrobatics made for an interesting fit in Toto. And the change in direction they took with Frederiksen in the band was not well received by the fans that had embraced their efforts on Toto IV.

The band was a bit harder edged, the songs were a bit more uptempo, with only one ballad in the mix-- the melancholic Steve Lukather penned and sung How Does It Feel. The rest of the musical offerings of this album were sung by either Fergie Frederiksen, David Paich, or both. The addition of Frederiksen was actually an excellent mix for background vocals as his tweeter-frying tenor gave the band a bit more balance in their upper registers. Frederiksen's background vocals are probably most noticeable on the minor hit Stranger In Town. But Fergie seems to steal the show on songs like Endless and Angel Don't Cry which sound as though they're tailor made to his vocal register.

After having heard live bootlegs from this era-- Toto was never better live than with Fergie in the band. He was consistently good from night to night and really took some of the Kimball classics like Hold the Line and English Eyes and made those songs his own. Sadly, for Fergie at least, this incarnation of the band was not to last. He was given his walking papers after the 1985 tour.

Today this album sounds a bit dated, but it can still be appreciated for its musicianship, Frederiksen's vocals, and its novelty-- this is one of only 2 Toto albums that feature all 3 of the Porcaro brothers (Jeff on drums, Mike on bass, and Steve on keys) as full members of the band.

Related links:
Toto - Hydra (1978) review
Toto - The Seventh One (1988) review
Toto - Kingdom of Desire (1992) review
Toto - Tambu (1995) review
Toto - Mindfields (1999) review
Toto - Falling in Between (2006) review
Trillion s/t (1978) review (Fergie's 1978 hard rock band with keyboardist/producer Patrick Leonard)

Stranger In Town music video

How Does It Feel music video


BarBarA said...

Excellent format additions, Perplex! Adding visual can rarely be a bad idea (unless of course the video is of K-Fed or someone in that category).

Toto is a fun back to listen to and I learned several things about them in your review (the bit about all three bros playing together on this album).

Jeff P. is one of the great drummers of our time (imho).

David Amulet said...

I bought this CD last year ONLY because I could not find "Stranger in Town" on iTunes, and I couldn't get the images from the video out of my head. Most of the rest of the album doesn't speak to me, but I do love my that song.

Plex: I'll have some thoughts for you in e-mail tomorrow or Wed. about that stuff you asked me to look at--sorry about the delay.

-- david

Anonymous said...

Too bad this album did not get more attention. Every single song on this album would have been a major hit for any other band of the 80's, but I guess Toto's fans at the time expected something less 'poppy'. Fergie Frederiksen's voice could have taken the band to new heights, but something must have happened....