KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Satur-debut – TOTO “TOTO”

Somehow I forgot to feature Toto’s eponymous 1978 debut as I worked my way (mostly) chronologically through this series, so now I’m correcting that oversight. Back in early 2015 I wrote a 5-part series on their discography and I’ve included my detailed notes on Toto below. The sextet of Steve Lukather, David Paich, Bobby Kimball, David Hungate, Steve Porcaro and Jeff Porcaro started their collective career with a bang on an album that remains one of my favorites from that era…and an all-time favorite as well.

For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.

 

 

From TOTO Part 1 – Thoughts On An Artist / Love Isn’t Always On Time:

Toto got off to an auspicious start with the double-platinum Top 10 album, Toto (1978). I didn’t get a copy until a few years later but I knew I would love these guys based on the strength of their debut single, “Hold The Line” (more on that below). They followed up with a couple of less-successful singles but domination of the pop charts was probably not on their list of priorities. Instead, Toto is a showcase for their diversity as musicians, arrangers and vocalists. More than any subsequent album, it was also a platform for Paich’s songwriting, with 8 of the 10 songs credited solely to him. They also included the first in a long line of song titles featuring a woman’s name with the album-closing “Angela,” to be followed by no fewer than 9 other such titles on their next 6 albums.

The Essentials:
♪ “I’ll Supply The Love” – A stomping melodic rocker that’s similar to “Do Ya” (The Move, Electric Light Orchestra) during the chorus. The verses are driving & funky, and overall it’s a great ‘70s AOR tune that establishes their unique group harmonies and Kimball as a powerful frontman. I love Lukather’s simple guitar riff as well as the cool, horn-driven instrumental section.
“Georgy Porgy” – Lukather sings lead on this soul/jazz/pop hybrid, with Cheryl Lynn (who sang my favorite disco-era song, “Got To Be Real”) taking over for the chorus, repeating the nursery rhyme refrain, “Georgy Porgy puddin’ pie, kissed the girls and made them cry.” Sweet strings augment the tasteful and brief guitar solo. Hungate & Jeff Porcaro deserve credit for the subtly funky rhythm track.
♪ “Girl Goodbye”– It may run past the 6-minute mark but there’s not a wasted note, making it a uniquely tight epic. I love the chugging rhythm and Porcaro’s tasteful jazz/prog drumming elevates every section of the song. Kimball sounds a lot like Boz Scaggs here, and Lukather’s blistering solo proves that he was a force to be reckoned with.
♪ “Hold The Line” – The first time I heard this on the radio I was completely floored, and I can honestly say that I’ve been equally thrilled every time I’ve listened to it over the years. From the snare hit and bouncy piano melody in the intro to the combination of guitar riffs, loping-yet-driving drum pattern and Kimball’s crystal clear vocal performance, this is as good as it gets, with Lukather proving once again that he’s a guitar god (and he was only 20 when the album was recorded).

Other Notable Tracks:

  • “Child’s Anthem” – A dramatic instrumental that opens the album, with stellar piano, tasty synth, staccato rhythms & an overall orchestral feel. Goes through various movements in under 3 minutes and in many ways it’s the album’s overture.
  • “Manuela Run” – A bouncy piano-led tune with Paich on lead vocals, a nice groove, tight harmonies and a memorable 4-note guitar hook. The chorus (“You better run, run Manuela, uela run”) is the strongest part.
  • “Takin’ It Back” – Steve Porcaro wrote & sang this one, which begins with off-kilter synth before leading into light piano & a jazzy pop rhythm. His voice is smooth, not dissimilar to Lukather’s but with less power. Speaking of Lukather, once again he shines on both nylon string and electric guitar.
  • “Rockmaker” – A straightforward 4/4 pop/rock song written & sung by Paich. His vocal line in the verses (“Don’t know quite what to saaaay”) reminds me of Tommy James & The Shondells’ “I Think We’re Alone Now.” It remains super catchy throughout, and I love Kimball’s response vocals in the second half.

 

In the five years since I completed my Toto series they finally started getting some newfound notoriety, mostly thanks to Weezer’s straight-ahead cover of 1982’s “Africa” in 2018. Hopefully a new generation of musicians & music lovers is discovering the awesomeness of Toto’s music, and their debut is an ideal place to start.

 

I’ll be back in a week or two to highlight a few other debuts I forgot to feature and wrap up this series.

34 comments on “Satur-debut – TOTO “TOTO”

  1. christiansmusicmusings
    May 23, 2020

    Amazing band of truly top-notch musicians! My introduction to Toto was “Toto IV”, another terrific album. I also really dig “The Seventh One”. I feel there are at least a couple of great songs on every Toto album.

    “Hold the Line” is just a killer tune. Frankly, that’s the only song I currently remember from their eponymous debut, since it’s been a long time I’ve listened to that record.

    Like

    • Toto IV is certainly a great introduction to these guys and I think a lot of people discovered them with that album. I’m in complete agreement about The Seventh One. That might actually be my favorite Toto album from start to finish. It’s certainly in the Top 2 or 3. Hopefully whenever you revisit their debut a few other songs will jump out at you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • christiansmusicmusings
        May 25, 2020

        I did listen to it last night – great debut! It also turned out I still remembered a few a other tracks in addition to “Hold the Line.”

        Like

      • I’m glad it held up and you remembered (and enjoyed) more than “Hold The Line.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • christiansmusicmusings
        May 25, 2020

        Makes me wanna go back to some of their other albums like “Hydra”, The Seventh One” or “Toto IV”, for that matter.

        Like

      • It’s always a good time to revisit classic albums. And if you ever get in the Toto zone there are several awesome albums later in their career.

        Liked by 1 person

      • christiansmusicmusings
        May 25, 2020

        In the meantime, I listened to “Hydra” – another great album! Next, I feel like moving on to “The Seventh”. 🙂

        Now that I’ve been bitten by the “Toto bug,” I might do something more on them. I did catch them on their 40th anniversary tour and thought it was a nice show.

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      • That jump to The Seventh One is an excellent choice. I love Joseph Williams’ voice. Sadly I never got to see them live. I have a few DVDs & blu-rays but obviously that’s not the same. Wish I could have seen Jeff Porcaro before he passed away.

        Liked by 1 person

      • christiansmusicmusings
        May 25, 2020

        I hear you on Jeff! Before that 2018 gig, I had seen Toto once in Germany. Given this was while I was studying in Tuebingen, it must have been sometime between 1989 and 1991. Since Jeff passed away in August 1992, he probably was part of the line-up. Shamefully, I can’t remember!

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      • You definitely saw them with Jeff Porcaro as, to the best of my knowledge, he was always their drummer until his death. The amazing Simon Phillips was a great replacement but they were never quite the same. Consider yourself lucky…even if you can’t remember seeing him play.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Bill Van Orden
    May 23, 2020

    When I heard that TOTO was a group formed from studio musicians…. I thought that it seemed like a new version of ‘THE WRECKING CREW”….. That ISN’T a bad thing, because you KNOW you are going to get bang out of the box. CRISP MUSICIANSHIP, and very tight….no slip-ups in a TOTO album…. I guess I like the fact that there are different musicians as the band progresses… I mean…. I love bands like STEELY DAN….new members usually mean fresh sounds and ideas…. while that wouldn’t work for a band like THE STONES or THE BEATLES… it works for a group like TOTO…. every dang album has highlights…..they are MORE than “AFRICA” and ‘ROSANA”

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    • Excellent points…as always, Mr. Bill. Toto’s lineup didn’t have quite the same number of changes over the years as a band like Steely Dan, which was essentially the duo plus session guys by the mid-’70s. With Toto it’s always been Lukather, Paich and at least one Porcaro brother. And other than switching between Kimball and Williams on lead vocals (with a couple of cameo appearances by other singers) they’ve been pretty steady. And of course their music has always been amazing,and ever-changing. They’ve done rock, funk, blues, progressive-rock, pop, heavy metal, etc.

      Like

  3. Heavy Metal Overload
    May 23, 2020

    Only had a comp of Toto and started checking out actual albums last year. Started on this and IV and I love them both.

    Like

    • I can see how they would be a compilation-only artist for a lot of people, but when you start digging in to individual albums there are a lot of amazing songs & musicianship to be found. The debut & IV are great ones. Have you gone any further than that?

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      • Heavy Metal Overload
        May 24, 2020

        Not yet but bought the recent album box so I’ve got plenty to get through! Gonna be fun. Any other albums you would single out?

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      • Since I know your tastes lean toward hard rock I think you’ll find a lot to like on Falling In Between and Tambu. There’s also a lot of heavier stuff on Kingdom Of Desire and Mindfields. My personal favorite might be The Seventh One. Happy listening.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Heavy Metal Overload
        May 26, 2020

        Great stuff. I’ll jump to those ones next then. Gonna be a fun task getting to know all that stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Alyson
    May 23, 2020

    Glad you turned the clock back this week as here we have a band I do know of and remember. Also interesting to have all this additional info as, yes you’ve guessed it, I only really knew of their songs Africa and Rosana until this point. Full marks for attempting to fit the word Serengeti into a rhyming scheme (although always sounded a bit comical) which is why I remember them. I shall now listen to the rest of these picks of yours and find out what I have hitherto missed.

    Like

    • I’m glad my time-travel back to the ’70s produced a winner for you…or at least a band you’re familiar with. Hopefully you enjoyed at least one of the other songs I included in the post.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alyson
        May 24, 2020

        I was being a fool, of course I know Hold The Line well and still a staple of our radio airwaves but I hadn’t associated it with Toto, the Africa band. Here’s the thing, we Brits didn’t really have bands like Toto in the early 80s which made them very American. Because they were never on our weekly studio-based music shows, I wouldn’t have necessarily been able to pick them out in a line-up, so often confused them with other American bands. Now that I’ve read your post and listened to the clips, I can see I missed out at the time and should have given them more attention. Especially liked Georgy Porgy which has a very different vibe to Hold The Line but just shows their breadth – Glad I dropped by this week as a nice little throwback during these tricky times. Thank you as ever Rich.

        Like

      • I hadn’t considered that the UK wasn’t producing bands like Toto and other so-called AOR artists, so of course they would all seem very American to you. I had a feeling you would really like “Georgy Porgy.” I love the groove on that one. It showed early on that these guys were open to playing anything.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Alyson
        May 25, 2020

        No, we really weren’t and yes, they really could!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Bill P
        June 6, 2020

        Alyson, another great band that the UK missed during the 80s that was labeled as “American” was the UK’s very own The Outfield. Their debut, Play Deep, is a masterpiece of hooky pop rock songwriting and could easily be included in this series. Big stars over here with “Your Love” but couldn’t get bus fare back home…

        Like

      • For some reason The Outfield was one of those bands I just didn’t like at the time. Something about the singer’s voice bugged me (I felt…and still feel…the same way about Kevin Cronin from REO Speedwagon) but in recent years I’ve enjoyed hearing The Outfield’s songs whenever they pop up. I’ll give their debut a listen on your recommendation.

        Like

      • Bill P
        June 11, 2020

        I know what you mean about not liking a singer’s voice. I’ve never really been a fan of Eddie Vedder’s voice. He’s great and a lot of people like what he does. I appreciate his contributions to Temple of the Dog and like “Ten” but it quickly wore on me. Outfield’s Tony Lewis does have a higher pitched voice but I like the vocal harmonies that he and the late John Spinks created.
        I did see REO in concert once and Kevin told a story about some girl from his high school and it went on for-EVER! It annoyed me then and, if you were already predisposed to not liking his voice, you would have been in agony.

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      • I’m with you regarding Eddie Vedder’s voice. I listened to the first couple of Pearl Jam albums when they came out and thought some of the music was good (they’re excellent musicians) but I couldn’t take his voice. I have several friends who are Pearl Jam fanatics and they think I’m crazy.

        Thanks for the REO story. Sounds like I would have hated that show. It’s too bad because they’re another band with good musicians & catchy songs, but I can’t get past his voice. I will definitely give The Outfield another shot.

        Like

  5. 80smetalman
    May 24, 2020

    I went back and read what I said about this album so many years ago. “Hold the Line” lured many people into thinking Toto was a hard rock band, which they weren’t. They’re still a good band of talented musicians.

    Like

    • I don’t think Toto can be easily categorized as they’ve covered so much musical ground in their career. Hard rock & progressive rock were two areas they explored more fully on albums like Tambu, Mindfields and Falling In Between. If you haven’t heard them I recommend checking them out at some point. I especially think Falling In Between would be right in your musical sweet spot.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I struggle with a lot of their music outside – obviously – ‘Toto IV’, but this gets a ‘like’ courtesy of the brilliant ‘Georgy Porgy’…

    Like

    • Not sure why you would struggle with their music outside of Toto IV. They cover so much musical ground and have so many albums that there must be a lot of material you would enjoy. I seem to remember you liking “Don’t Stop Me Now” with Miles Davis guesting on trumpet.

      Like

  7. Bill P
    June 6, 2020

    I’m a big fan of the first 4 Toto albums and also The Seventh One. The latest album too show Joe Williams returning in fine form. It is a band that has really had to deal with a lot of tragedy. I saw Luke give an interview once where he said that life had not been kind for the sons of Joe Porcaro. Too true. Thanks for including this album, it is a great one. “Hold the Line” is an incredible first statement from the band. I also like the Child’s Anthem segue into I’ll Supply the Love. (Famous misheard lyric: You supply the knife, baby, I’ll supply the love…)

    Like

    • Glad we’re in agreement about Toto, Bill. It seems like Steve Porcaro has done well for himself but poor Jeff & Mike were not so lucky. As for the misheard lyric, that’s great. A totally different sentiment with the word “knife” included. Haha.

      Like

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