Through the Looking Glass

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The members of Toto celebrate their freedom from "corporate shackles and invisible slave owners" in their liner notes to this collection, copyrighted by Toto Recordings, Inc., even if it was released by CMC Records, which is owned by Capitol Records, which in turn is part of the major label EMI. The group's idea for expressing its newfound liberty is to record an album consisting of cover songs by their favorite artists, an unimpeachable list including the Beatles, Elvis Costello, Cream, Bob Dylan, Herbie Hancock, Elton John, Bob Marley, Steely Dan, the Temptations, and Stevie Wonder. That solves one of Toto's persistent problems, coming up with material to match its vaunted session-musician chops. But it tends to emphasize another problem: that the bandmembers have spent their careers trying to sound like other people, or at least the way some producer wanted them to sound on a specific session. Their arrangements of classic songs like "Sunshine of Your Love" and "Bodhisattva" hew closely to the originals, even if guitarist Steve Lukather is let loose to solo as he pleases, particularly on the latter. These are great songs, and they were performed well originally. They still sound very good here, but Toto doesn't bring anything to them that wasn't there already. So, while it's nice to know that the band has good taste in other people's music, that doesn't explain why anyone needs to hear them copy that music when the originals are so readily available.

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