Following Eminem's lead, Toto sues record label over unpaid digital royalties

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Toto and Eminem don’t intersect very often, maybe not at all. Until now: Toto is taking action against Sony, filing suit in U.S. District Court for Southern New York in search of more than $605,000 in unpaid digital royalties.

The legal move follows a precedent set last year by Eminem, who had success in arguing that digital downloads should be calculated as if were licensing revenue. Labels have said that these downloads should be part of record sales, thus providing a smaller dividend to the artist: Revenues run 12 to 20 percent by that model, versus 50 percent for licensing deals. Eninem’s managers, at the time, estimated owed royalties between $17 million and $20 million from the ruling, which was upheld when the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Peter Frampton, Kenny Rogers and Chuck D have also pursued similar actions.

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Toto. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: STEVE LUKATHER OF TOTO: We asked Lukather to dig into his role in a staggering number of hit projects — from Boz Scaggs and Olivia Newton-John to Larry Carlton and Michael Jackson. But you don’t talk to the legendary guitarist without talking about Toto. So, we also found out more during the latest SER Sitdown on the complicated history of the band’s lead singers, and what the future holds for Toto after the departure of two Porcaro brothers. Oh, and why Lukather still keeps a copy of Meet the Beatles in heavy rotation, even now.

SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: TOTO: Critics hung soft rock around their necks after the success of tunes like “I Won’t Hold You Back,” “99” and “I’ll Be Over You.” But Toto was never so easily identifiable. A closer listen uncovers a musical pallette that brings in heavier guitar sounds, funk, soul, R&B, jazz, even prog rock. Top 5 hits like “Hold the Line,” “Rosanna,” and “Africa,” each as listenable as they can be, scarcely hint at that kind of complexity. Can this legacy be saved? That’s where we come in.

ONE TRACK MIND: TOTO, “THE OTHER SIDE” (1993): We caught up with Billy Sherwood, who played bass on and co-wrote this track from Toto’s eighth album. Kingdom of Desire was notable as the final project featuring co-founding drummer Jeff Porcaro, who died shortly after the recording’s completion. Guitarist Steve Lukather also assumed solo lead vocal duties for the first time. “The Other Side” was co-written by David Paich. “I was over at Paich’s one evening, and he played me a track from Kingdom of Desire and I started singing a few things, and that became the melody,” Sherwood told us. “I had never worked with them on that level before. He asked if I wanted to take a stab at it, and the rest is history. Luke came in and pretty much sang it note for note, which I found very respectful. I was honored to be a part of the last record with Jeff before we lost him. There will always be a very special place in my heart, having a song on that record.”

TOTO’S STEVE LUKATHER ON “I WON’T HOLD YOU BACK,” “99,” AND “I’ll BE OVER YOU”: On this special edition of Something Else! Reviews’ One Track Mind, we hand the reins over to Toto co-founder and legendary sessions guitarist Steve Lukather. He provides insight into “I Won’t Hold You Back” and “I’ll Be Over You,” both signature ballads for Toto, and refutes the idea that he hates another of them — “99.” Lukather also talks about how, despite the fact that his band never got the critical praise it deserved, the legendary Miles Davis tried to lure the guitarist away from Toto.

DEEP CUTS: TOTO, “ALL US BOYS” (1979): In a band that was serious about its craft, especially on Hydra, “Boys” always got a smile out of me because it was a tune where they let their hair down and just be a fun-loving garage band. And were pretty damned good at it. A relatively stripped-down, straight-ahead rocker with David Paich on piano, Steve Porcaro on organ, his brother Jeff on drums, Luke on guitar, David Hungate on bass, and Bobby Kimball on backing vocals, Paich takes a lead vocal that sounds a little British, a little rowdy and a lot boastful.

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The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
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