Toto, “Child’s Anthem” from Toto (1978): Toto Tuesdays

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A band typically self titles its debut project to make a statement. The first album is an introduction, almost a preface to a book — if not the first chapter in what they hope is a long story.

For Toto, it’s been a long story, indeed. (Consider: They will yield a new chapter called Toto XIV in March 2015.) Tracing back to 1978’s Toto, we find a perfectly constructed and musically all-encompassing introduction to five extremely talent musicians and a singer. The name Toto came from the working title co-founding drummer Jeff Porcaro gave their demo tapes. It stuck once bassist David Hungate pointed out that Toto means “all encompassing.”

Their moniker would become apropos for this album, as well, as Toto explores rock, R&B, jazz and progressive rock. That journey begins with the opening track “Child’s Anthem,” a bold statement. The song, which served as a B-side to Toto’s jazzy third single “Georgy Porgy” could not be more different than the latter. “Child’s Anthem” is a spirited instrumental, starting with the driving grand piano of composer David Paich.

Paich, the son of music legend Marty Paich, knows how to compose and arrange a song, having already been a major writing and arranging contributor to Boz Scaggs’ Silk Degrees. After the staccato intro, which finds Jeff Porcaro arriving with David Hungate is rapid succession, Toto switches to a strict shuffle rhythm which would make Jeff’s drum idol Jim Keltner proud. At the same time, Tom Knox’s engineering and mixing effectively capture the nuanced playing of Steve Porcaro on synthesizers, even as he’s doubled on “Child’s Anthem” by guitarist Steve Lukather.

Clearly beyond your standard radio fare from 1978, “Child’s Anthem” is progressive rock with a precise and emotional driving beat — something with a sort of Steely Dan quality, in that the song initially seems deceptively simple. Listen for Jeff Porcaro’s tambourine, or Steve Porcaro’s synth stabs. As they build out “Child’s Anthem,” piece after precise piece, it serves as a lasting illustration of this band’s talents at both conception and execution.

And they were just getting started. What’s next for Toto? Well, vocals for one thing, and a good chunk of solid rock, as we continue toward “I’ll Supply The Love.”

Preston Frazier’s new Toto Tuesdays is a song-by-song feature that will explore the rich musical history of Toto. In 2015, the group returns with ‘Toto XIV,’ its first album since 2006.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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