Monday, July 17, 2017

"Stranger in Town" by Toto

Song#:  2103
Date:  10/27/1984
Debut:  70
Peak:  30
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Toto's 1982 album Toto IV was a multi-platinum hit that boasted three Top 10 hits and won six Grammys, including Album of the Year. After a side project where the band did the soundtrack to the sci-fi film Dune, they regrouped to begin the follow-up to Toto IV. Unfortunately during this time one of the band's lead singers, Bruce Kimball, had a bit of a run-in with the law (drug related charges) and in the end he was let go. Fergie Frederiksen from the band LeRoux was brought on board to take over his spot. With a new line-up in place, the band recorded the album Isolation. This first single, which featured lead vocals by David Paich, was issued ahead of the LP and it got some traction at Rock getting to #7. However, the news was different at Pop where the song barely scratched the Top 30. It was a significant disappointment following their success with Toto IV.

ReduxReview:  The Toto IV album is considered a prime example of glossy, 80s, L.A. pop and it contained two classic songs with "Rosanna" and "Africa." While I loved the hits from the album, I wasn't a big fan of the rest. However, it was expertly done and it seemed like the band had hooked into a good formula that could spawn further success. And then Isolation came out. It's like everything they did and learned from the previous album went out the door. Instead of capitalizing and improving on Toto IV's slick, memorable soft rock, they tried to amp things up with a harder rocking sound and it didn't work. I get that they probably didn't want to do "Africa, Pt. 2," but I don't know why they would go in such a different direction and with songs that were utterly forgettable. The lone exception was this song that was loaded with a bunch of 80s synths and effects. I kind of dug it and was hoping it would hit, but it just didn't catch on. I bought the album based on this track and was sorely disappointed. I think I listened to it twice and then filed it away. Highly disappointing especially from a band that was loaded with talent. It was a bad move on their part that pretty much derailed their career.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The lyrics to the song were inspired by the 1961 film Whistle Down the Wind, which was based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Mary Hayley Bell. In the film, three farm children find a fugitive hiding in their barn. The kids mistake the stranger for Jesus Christ and continue to hide and take care of him. The stranger goes along with the kids and their belief he is Jesus in order to avoid apprehension by the police. The British film, which starred the author's daughter, Hayley Mills, was a well-reviewed box office hit. In 1996, Andrew Lloyd Webber adapted the story to a stage musical. Webber did the music while songwriter Jim Steinman provided the lyrics. Toto's video for the song has a similar storyline to the movie. It featured actor Brad Dourif as the stranger. Dourif may have secured the role thanks to his appearance in the movie Dune, which Toto scored.


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