Eagle Vision [Release Date 16.09.16]
Few bands can have had such a revolving cast of musicians, many joining and rejoining, as Toto, which makes the history of the AOR giants such a fascinating one. One interesting period of their career was an attempt to get back to rock basics after a disastrous experiment with Jean-Michel Byron, a (very) poor man’s Michael Jackson.
So from 1991 the core quartet of Steve Lukather, David Paich, and the Porcaro brothers Mike and Jeff operated without a frontman, the former taking most of the lead vocals, and made one of the heaviest and least commercial albums of their career in ‘Kingdom of Desire’.
This appearance at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival was one of the first in the new format, but sadly also one of the last before Jeff Porcaro passed away the following year, and has been remixed for its first ever official release.
It needs to come with a number of health warnings: one is that the dark blue and pink lighting is not the most visually flattering, though Steve Lukather makes up for it with a tie dyed vest and hair that looks as if he has just put his finger in a light socket.
The other is that this is far from a Greatest Hits set with only three of the eight songs fitting that description: ‘Africa’ and ‘Rosanna’, where a trio of backing singers play a more prominent role in recreating the Bobby Kimball parts, and the smooth ballad ‘I’ll Be Over You’ which was always one of Steve’s songs.
Instead they preview songs from ‘Kingdom of Desire’ in ‘OnT the Run’ and the title track, with Steve’s smoky vocals and extended guitar vocals almost a homage to his heroes Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, who had recently died. They also prove to the Jazz Festival audience that, far from being bland corporate hitmakers, Toto always had serious musical chops.
As a result an instrumental ‘Jake To The Bone’ is followed by a lengthy cover of ‘Red House’ whilst the eighth track of a 70 minute DVD (you get the picture) is a cover of Sly Stone’s ‘I Want To Take You Higher’ where a stage invasion presumably of other festival performers creates a party atmosphere.
There are better places for the casual fan to investigate Toto, but as an insight into a brief period in the band’s history and a change in musical direction, this will be a fascinating snapshot for committed fans. *** 1/2
Review by Andy Nathan
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