After I recently reviewed Joe Bonamassa’s live album Now Serving: Royal Tea From The Ryman, reflecting a 2020 live stream event, here is another review on such an event on Flyctory.com. Again, the performing bands are true music legends: Toto did so many great songs during the last decades. The show, which was originally streamed on 21st November 2020 from Los Angeles is called With A Little Help From My Friends. As you might guess already, at least one track is not a Toto original. Furthermore, Toto introduced a new lineup with that concert. Here is the CD review.
Toto – About The Artists
Toto has been founded in 1977 already in Los Angeles. The only real founding member, which is still active (after a shorter hiatus) is keyboarder and singer David Paich. Together with drummer Jeff Porcaro, who was part of Toto until his death in 1992 and bassist David Hungate (active in 1977 to 1982 and 2014, 2015), they added members to the band in order to record the self-titled debut album. These band members were Bobby Kimball (vocals), Steve Lukather (guitars) and Steve Porcaro (keyboards). Lukather and Paich and still active. Jospeh Williams is a longer-time band member and vocalist nowdays. In the Los Angeles show, they introduced bassist John Pierce, drummer Robert Searight, two additional keyboarders (Steve Maggiora, Dominique Taplin) and multi-instrumentalist Warren Ham.
Toto had an amazing career from the very beginning. Right after their debut album, which was sold 4.5 million times worldwide, they were nominated as the Best New Artists at the Grammy Awards. Overall, the band won that award six times. Their best-selling album was Toto IV in 1982, which listed 12 million global sales. On the singles side, their debut album was driven by the classic Hold The Line (Platinum in the US and Australia). In 1982, they added two global hits, Rosanna and Africa to the band history. Their last Top 10 single was Don’t Chain My Heart, which placed ninth in Finland in 1992.
Toto – With A Little Help From My Friends – Track by Track
The twelve track album lasts 75 minutes. There is also a DVD / Blueray version, which additionally features interviews with the band members.
1. Till The End
The opening of the show is the 1986. The song is using a lot of different sounds and instruments – but overall, it does not catch me as much as a Toto classic should catch me.
2. Hold The Line
Hey, we play this next song for you because we have to – not really a love declaration at the very beginning of Hold The Line. The band really feels to dislike the song, they do the song in the shortest amount of time of all songs recorded (apart from Band Introductions, which I would not call a song). In fact, I feel that Hold The Line is a really good live version. Not the only point where I disagree to this Toto record.
Introducing a song, part II: Pamela is simply introduced with This is a song about a girl which was unkind to me. The 1988 release has a nice groove on the live recording, almost feels like a blues track. In my kind of view, the band is a bit too keen on demonstrating their instrumental potential in this song, but also in others.
4. Kingdom Of Desire
Kingdom Of Desire has been the title track of Toto’s 1992 album. The song is having hard rock character – and indeed the band is spreading the spirit of the original on stage very nicely. The live recording exceeds eight minutes – but in fact, the original is just about a minute shorter.
5. White Sister
If you start listening to White Sister, take the next nine and a half minutes off – the fifth track is the most epic one on With A Little Help From My Friends. The song is one of Toto’s rather early releases (1979). For the first six minutes, it feels to be the best track of the album – but extensive drum solos (and this is not even a really entertaining one in my point of view) are just that outdated – Robert Searight should have rather not taken this time of instrumental self-marketing. Great ability on the drumsticks – but also great motivation to move forward to the sixth track.
6. You Are The Flower
The show stays in the 1970’s – You Are The Flower has been released in 1978. The new version is not bad, but as in many songs so far, I just don’t see too much of an added value compared to the original. Again, a touch of blues rock in this song.
7. I Won’t Hold You Back
I Won’t Hold You Back was one of the key track of the great album Toto IV in 1982. It is the first song on the album where I really struggle with the vocal performance. This gentle, soft original just feels too dirty, too imprecise in this live recording. The chorus is done quite well, but some of the verses just don’t feel to be good enough.
8. Stop Loving You
Another of the really big ones by Toto. The additional 90 seconds, compared to the original, do not really add work value. I feel the additional melodic elements are rather disturbing. On top of that, I miss some power and energy in this song.
9. Band Introductions
If you have a just 75 minute show, I would personally not prefer that much to have a 3:28 minute band introduction. If it does not spoil your concert experience, I am sure you will find the skip or fast forward button on your CD player or streaming software.
10. Home Of The Brave
After that organisational break, the band present another track originally published on the The Seventh One album. Again,a song, in which the band can demonstrate their instrumental strength and perfection. I would nonetheless have prefered to listen to some more classics like Africa.
Unfortunately, I have to say that Rosanna is by far the worst song of this recording. Especially the vocal performance on one of their biggest tracks is just too weak in my point of view. Rosanna deserves better.
12. With A Little Help From My Friends
The Beatles wrote (and performed it). Joe Cocker made it big again and brought his version to the Grammy Hall of Fame. The “new” Toto took a tough task finishing their show with this massive track of music history. No, you just cannot replace the roaring rocking blues voice of Joe Cocker. Toto does not manage to do so. Especially after the weird Rosanna, the song is better than my expectations, though. In later parts, the song feels a bit too thin then, unfortunately.
Toto – With A Little Help From My Friends – Spotify
Here is the album on Spotify:
Toto – With A Little Help From My Friends – My View
I struggle with With A Little Help From My Friends. Maybe I should just take it as an introduction of new band members and that’s it. Some appetizer to the next time these guys come on tour. However, I have to say that after listening to this live recording, I would probably less likely go and buy some tickets. The album is not bad, but definitely not too good self-marketing for this legendary band.
Music Legends on Flyctory.com
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