The album only landed on the door stop two hours ago so this is not a review. The album is excellent, sound quality is better on songs that deserve the best. They have delivery us iconic songs freshly cleaned up and they deserve a listen.
Instead of a review (I would need to live with the album a couple of days more for that) here is a short explanation of the start of Toto and why these songs did not get the fair listen they deserved when released.
"Alone" is the first track to celebrate Toto’s 40 trips around the sun, written by the core Toto members: David Paich, Steve Lukather, Steve Porcaro and Joseph Williams. Brothers Jeff and Mike Porcaro would have completed the original musicians but Jeff died of a heart attack in 1992 and Mike from ALS in 2015. As friends and band mates they go all the way back to high school days in LA with regular garage jams in the Porcaro’s backyard for despite the label that they were “merely studio players”, they started in High School where they formed two generations of a Grant High School band called Rural Still Life and then Still Life.
Proud parents of Toto members include, Marty Paich, Joe Porcaro and John Williams, parents of five of the members so the Toto boys were no strangers to good musicianship having probably been babes-in-arms burped to complicated jazz rhythms. Having godparents like Emil Richards could not have hurt Jeff Porcaro and his love of music. Jeff began playing professionally while a student at Grant High School in California's San Fernando Valley. Still in his teens and short of graduating HS Jeff became the drummer for "The Sonny & Cher Show." Meanwhile teen David Paich was earning an Emmy award for “BEST SONG OR THEME – 1974” for his work on Ironside by NBC. This led to all of them individually breaking into the rarefied air of LA session musicians. Yet early success seemed to get them labelled as having not “paid their dues”, where did that label come from? Not from fellow musicians (sorry Elvis Costello, I will return to you later), it came first of all from a small band of journalist led by Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times who wrote; “Nothing’s gained from listening to Toto” (Feb 4, 79). Early success thus saw them labelled as a slick “studio band”, a lie seeing as they were cut from the garage jams of Rural Still Life.
The same time Toto emerged so did the punk movement, that also created a sort of backlash against musicians who really could play and Toto were sometimes the recipients of this negative feedback. It made Steve crazy that he had worked all his life on learning how to play the guitar and now that was looked down upon. Punk was a fashion and a movement, music was not its top priority, despite some excellent music coming out of it. Into a music world where punk was “cool” (irony), Toto were an easy group to hate. Toto have always been about the music, that was priority 1, 2 and 3, being seen in the right places with the right clothes, posing for the right in vogue photographer with the right model on your arm were not consideration to be weighed against music.
This album takes some of the great music Toto have made, re-masters it and polishes songs that deserve an audience.
By: Craig Bach