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Toto - 1981 Turn Back

ALBUM: Turn Back
SERIAL: FC 36813
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 1990, Columbia, CK 36813 * 2008, Columbia, 88697251262(3)


LINEUP: Bobby Kimball - vocals * Steve Lukather - guitars, vocals * David Paich - keyboards, vocals * Steve Porcaro - keyboards * David Hungate - bass * Jeff Porcaro - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Gift With A Golden Gun * 02 English Eyes * 03 Live For Today * 04 A Million MIles Away * 05 Goodbye Elenore * 06 I Think I Could Stand You Forever * 07 Turn Back * 08 If It's The Last Night


Toto along with their peers such as Boston, Foreigner and Journey helped define the AOR genre and we've already covered their benchmark album 'IV' together with some of their later output elsewhere on this site. This time we're winding the clock back to 1981's criminally neglected 'Turn Back'. Their previous album 'Hydra' had hinted at a more progressive sound to the band with cuts like 'St George And The Dragon' and 'White Sister' (a live favourite with fans even today). Toto's guitarist Steve Lukather has previously gone on record stating that the band was unhappy with their record company promoting their ballads and lighter material (e.g. '99' a song he reputedly hates). 'Turn Back' would therefore appear to have been a backlash against these inside moves and as my colleague Alun has alluded to previously, one of the harder rocking albums of their repertoire.

The Songs
The band worked with Geoff Workman who was Roy Thomas Baker's engineer (Queen-Journey-The Cars etc...) on these sessions. As one would expect given Workman's background, 'Turn Back' is prone to expansive overblown moments and doesn't represent the trademark Toto sound - Lukather's guitar sounds rawer and Jeff Porcaro's drum's more upfront. However it contains some great songs and I defy any serious pomp rock fan not to love this album. The curiously titled 'Gift With A Golden Gun' immediately sets the tone for the album with marvellously dirty guitar riffing from Lukather driving the band along at an energetic pace. 'English Eyes' has an ethereal quality about it, but Luke's guitar ensures that the listener remains alert rather than drifting off into a peaceful slumber - no strong coffee is therefore required.. The Lukather penned 'Live For Today' is a more guitar based hard rocker. In fact you can barely hear Messrs Paich and Porcaro. Maybe they nipped out for a tea break during this session? That epic feel returns once again with the heart rending 'A Million Miles Away' surely one of the most under-rated ballads Toto have ever committed to vinyl. Give me this rather than the soppy '99' any day.. Act two commences with the galloping 'Goodbye Elenore' featuring some impressive guitar/keyboard interplay and a scintillating solo from Lukather. The acoustic opening on the superbly titled 'I think I Could Stand You Forever' (what a great line for a marriage proposal eh?) swells to an overblown pompous chorus with some tremendous riffing and thunderous drums. Luke is all over this song like a rash on a German measles sufferer and his playing should be considered essential study for any student of air guitar. This song is my nomination as contender for the greatest pomp rock song of all time. It still makes the hairs stand up on the back on my neck (less so on my head these days!) even after all these years. The title cut is more progressive, sounding like an outtake from the 'Hydra' recordings. The album closes on an uncharacteristically subdued note with the ballad 'If It's The Last Night'.

In Summary
This album appeals greatly to me as a lover of things musically overblown though not the masses it would seem, hence it poor record sales. As a result of (presumably) record company pressure the band changed musical direction opting for a more commercial sound, resulting in the award winning 'IV' which firmly secured their status as 'AOR legends' and the rest of course is history..

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#1 | DEMONAOR on January 12 2008 22:47:57
Great albummusic
#2 | rkbluez on June 16 2012 11:25:39
Great album and follow up to the mighty Hydra...but as good as this CD is it suffers from a poor mastering album of this calibre should sound amazing...still this is one great CD.
#3 | code4 on September 16 2015 21:41:07
The most youthful sounding Toto album to me. Very different to both Hydra and the sophisticated sounding debut. The production is not all that 'slick' either which is a little bit of surprise given it is a classic era Toto album (that said it sounds considerably better on LP than on the standard edition cd which contained a particularly poor tape transfer making it sound like you are listening to a worn out cassette duCool. While maybe not one of Toto's finest works it is upbeat relatively enjoyable stuff a lot of the way and has an unpretentious, and like i said previously, a youthful feeling to me (which is well matched by the cool cover artwork).
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