The session-hardened musicians already made a name for themselves with their debut release, but after the poor commercial performance of the succeeding catalogs, Hydra and Turn Back, Toto was pressured to make a redemption record or face the risk of being dropped by the current label, Columbia Records. Thus, they turned to the first album’s formula, tweaked the multi-genre format, and hired the help of outside artists like the Eagles bassist Timothy B. Schmit. Toto also opted to support the sole vocal work of Bobby Kimball by having the other members sing on various tracks as well.
Toto IV was a well-balanced album that featured the band at peak musicianship, with a more polished approach on orchestration and production. Top cuts in the album include the shuffle beat classic “Rosanna”, powered by Jeff Porcaro’s modified groove and features a jazz-rock arrangement. The power ballad “I Won’t Hold You Back” has Steve Lukather take charge of the emotive vocals as it plows through a sullen progression. The funky “Waiting For Your Love” is perfect for a disco-dance bop, and the titanic anthem – often overplayed – “Africa” has a sing-along chorus that made it such a pop classic throughout the years.
Toto IV just came in time to swoop the band’s hindquarters from total failure, and it’s no wonder that Toto got critical acclaim for its full-fledged musicianship and themes.