I want you all to know, that although Judy and I do get hired by record labels, artists, and managers to help market and promote their albums, when I write about something in this blog I am not being paid to do so. I only write about the music that really moves me and what I feel is exceptional enough to tell you about. It’s a turn-on for me to pass it on to you, and hopefully some of you will purchase the music and support the arts. These days, with so much downloading it is more important than ever to support great music and musicians.
In this spirit I want to tell you about the new Toto album (TOTO XIV). To begin, just look at the musicians who are on this album.
Joseph Williams – lead vocals
Steve Lukather – guitars, bass, vocals
David Paich – keyboards, vocals
Steve Porcaro – keyboards, vocals
David Hungate – bass
Keith Carlock – drums
Lenny Castro – percussion
Tom Scott – saxes and horn arrangements
Lee Sklar, Tal Wilkenfeld, Tim Lefebvre – bass
Martin Tillman – cello
CJ Vanston – additional synths
Michael McDonald, Amy Keys, Mabvuto Carpenter, Jamie Savko, Amy Wlliams – background vocals.
Michael McDonald on BACKGROUND vocals! Are you kidding me?!! This guy is one of the greatest singers on the planet with his own huge career! Tom Scott, Lee Sklar, Lenny Castro, etc., etc., etc., these are the cream of the crop, the best of the best.
And the reason they show up to play with Toto is because Joseph Williams, Steve Lukather, David Paich, Steve Porcaro, David Hungate, and Keith Carlock, are some of the best musicians ever assembled.
Over their storied career, this band has won Grammys for Best New Artist, Best Producer, Best Song, Best Record, Best Vocal Arrangement, Best Instrumental Arrangement, Best Engineered Recording, and Best Album Of The Year! Whew!! That’s like winning in EVERY category a band like this can be nominated for!
But the reason I am writing about this album in particular is that the guys really uncorked a big one with this new TOTO XIV album.
I snatched this from the bio because I can’t explain it any better than the guys themselves.
“As they began the process of a return the studio, all of the principle long-term members brought their A-game to the table. Guitarist Steve “Luke” Lukather offers, “When you put us in a room, and everybody brings in their pieces, the next thing you know it all fits together. Everybody’s performances are top notch. We are really bringing our best out, forcing ourselves to make personal best choices, what’s best for the music. I’m really excited to hear what people think.” Singer Joseph Williams adds, “We are talking about a band where everybody is a writer, and everybody is a lead singer, and everybody is a player. All involved brought this trio to the table where it could just live on its own.”
The members of Toto were hot studio musicians back in the day and were regulars on albums by Steely Dan, Seals and Crofts, Boz Scaggs, and Sonny and Cher, just to mention a few. When you have cream of the crop studio musicians who form a band, and then they invite more cream of the crop studio musicians to play on their new album, well,…you get a cream of the crop album, it’s as simple as that.
Funny personal story:
I go back with this band since their beginning on Columbia Records in 1977. When the band had the million-selling Gold-certified single, “Rosanna” off TOTO IV which won Record Of The Year at the 1983 Grammy awards, my first son, Adam, was three years old. Adam was more than enamored with this song. For a kid just learning how to speak, all he kept saying was “Rosanna again, Rosanna again, Rosanna again.” You could play this record five times in a row for him, and you’d still hear, “Rosanna again!” It was like, “Can’t you say anything else?!” And, he would nod his head yes and then say, “Rosanna again.” (just like that “Remarkable” scene in The Little Rascals).
After weeks and weeks of playing “Rosanna” over and over and over again, in the house, in the car, etc.,etc.. my wife and and I were losing our minds. I thought it so fascinating I called to tell my friend Mark Hartley, one of Toto’s managers at the time. Well, he positively LOVED it!
About three weeks later, a tiny plaque showed up at our house. It was a gold 45 single record awarded to Adam Rappaport and it was engraved, “To Adam Rappaport—Toto’s Biggest and Smallest Fan.”
We were all thrilled of course, but Adam thought it was a toy and couldn’t figure out how it worked (very cute). I explained to him that it was something you hang on your wall to look at and not play with. I put it right over his bed so he could check it out before he went to sleep.
The funniest part was, when friends would come over it kind of blew their minds, and they’d say, “What??! You got a gold record?!!” And Adam would say, “Yeah, you look at it, you don’t play with it.”
© Paul Rappaport 2015