Toto – IV

More Toto

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Toto

  • A vintage copy of Toto’s Must-Own Masterpiece that was doing just about everything right, earning excellent Double Plus (A++) grades from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Huge and clear with the kind of smooth, rich, Tubey sound you sure don’t hear on too many ’80s pop albums
  • “Rosanna” and “Africa” are both knockouts here – we’ve rarely heard them with this kind of weight, scale and energy
  • 4 1/2 stars: “It was do or die for Toto on the group’s fourth album, and they rose to the challenge… Toto IV was both the group’s comeback and its peak …Toto’s best and most consistent record.”
  • This is clearly the band’s best sounding album. Roughly 100 other listings for the Best Sounding Album by an Artist or Group can be found here
  • In our opinion, IV is the only Toto record you’ll ever need. Click on this link to see more titles we call One and Done

If more records sounded like this we would be out of business (and the CD would never have been invented). Thankfully we were able to find this TOTO-ly Tubey Magical copy and make it available for our customers who love the album.

Africa Has The Whomp We Love

Side two ends with the huge hit “Africa.” Jeff Porcaro’s drums are alive and bouncy with the clarity and attack of the real live thing. When the bass kicks in, the whomp factor really gets your head bobbing. Dynamic contrasts were dramatic as well: with the best copies, the delicate sound of the ballads really took our breath away.

The brass section hired for this record, including some of the ‘Chicago’ horns, are showcased on side one. The best copies really have weight to the horn sound that the most pressings lacked, making the horns edgy and shrill. (Ugh.)

This was our first shootout for Toto in several years and it was quite a fun listen. It’s obvious why Toto IV was a Platinum Record. What’s not to like?

What The Best Sides Of Toto IV Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes even as late as 1982
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Too Much Top End Is Bad, Right?

What’s not to like is that most pressings had too much top end, ranging from annoying to downright irritating (unless your system is dull as dishwater. Many are, but that’s not our thing here at Better Records). Our killer copies had sweetness and warmth we didn’t expect to hear. Better yet, the best copies had jump-out-of-the-speakers presence without being aggressive, no mean feat.

The good ones make you want to turn up the volume; the louder they get the better they sound. Try that with the average copy. When playing mass-produced pop music like this, more level usually means only one thing: bloody eardrums.

The typical Toto IV EQ is radio-friendly, not home-stereo-friendly. But a few were cut right, with the kind of sweetness and smoothness that we like to call Tubey Magic here at Better Records. Yes, some copies of Toto IV are so rich and sweet you would think they were recorded ten years earlier. (The clarity and tremendous dynamics seem a tad more modern, as discussed below.)

Sit Up and Take Notice of That Guitar!

Pop production techniques were very advanced by this time, with plenty of roomy reverb around the vocals and guitars. These guys are studio wizards, make no mistake. Steve Lukather’s overdriven, distorted guitar has near-perfect tonality; it adds so much power to the music.

As is the case with the best Hot Stamper pressings of Aqualung, when the guitar sounds this good, it really makes you sit up and take notice of the guy’s playing.

When the sound works the music works, our seven-word definition of a Hot Stamper.

What We’re Listening For On Toto IV

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

The Cats from Thriller

The sonic similarities to Michael Jackson’s Thriller album are obvious on “Waiting For Your Love”; one could easily mistake it for an outtake on Jackson’s Masterpiece. No wonder; the entire Toto band were hired to be The Cats on the Thriller album. Quincy Jones knows talent when he hears it. Michael wanted the best and these guys delivered.

The comparison with Thriller is apt. Thriller is often bright and spitty, with phony EQ to wake up dead stereo equipment. Okay for mid-fi, not so good for hi-fi. But as your equipment, room, and understanding of audio improve, records like this get a whole lot better than they have any right to be. They become True Demo Discs. The sound is HUGE: wide and deep, with the lead instruments front and center.

It really doesn’t get much better than this — if you can find that elusive Triple Plus copy. If you have ten or so to clean and play you will no doubt find one too!

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.

A Pop Masterpiece

We consider this album Toto’s Must-Own Masterpiece. It’s a recording that belongs in any serious Popular Music Collection.

Others that belong in that category can be found here.


Side One

Make Believe 
I Won’t Hold You Back 
Good for You 
It’s a Feeling

Side Two

Afraid of Love
Lovers in the Night
We Made It
Waiting for Your Love

Thriller magic from top to bottom. Check it out!


AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review

It was do or die for Toto on the group’s fourth album, and they rose to the challenge. Largely dispensing with the anonymous studio rock that had characterized their first three releases, the band worked harder on its melodies, made sure its simple lyrics treated romantic subjects, augmented Bobby Kimball’s vocals by having other group members sing, brought in ringers like Timothy B. Schmit, and slowed down the tempo to what came to be known as “power ballad” pace.

Most of all, they wrote some hit songs: “Rosanna,” the old story of a lovelorn lyric matched to a bouncy beat, was the gold, Top Ten comeback single accompanying the album release; “Make Believe” made the Top 30; and then, surprisingly, “Africa” hit number one ten months after the album’s release…

Toto IV was both the group’s comeback and its peak; it remains a definitive album of slick L.A. pop for the early ’80s and Toto’s best and most consistent record.

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