Toto, “Bend” from Toto XIV (2015): Something Else! sneak peek

Share this:

Steve Porcaro’s official return to Toto hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, probably because he’s always receded into the background amongst wide-angle personalities like Steve Lukather or Bobby Kimball. An import-only bonus track from the upcoming Toto XIV fixes that.

“Bend” is, in fact, all Porcaro — a triumph of conception, from top to bottom, from an often-overlooked figure who added some deliciously offbeat things (that crazy “Rosanna” solo? Seriously?) to Toto’s first six albums. And that’s to say nothing of one of Michael Jackson’s signature songs in “Human Nature.”

You’d never know it, of course. Even on Toto’s most recent tour, in celebration of their 35th anniversary, frontman Joseph Williams initially took the mic for renditions of the deprecating Porcaro’s “It’s a Feeling,” from 1982’s Toto IV. Only later, as the tour progressed, was Steve Porcaro pushed back to the front for this signature expression of a cuckold’s sorrow.

“Bend” showcases all of those same strengths, both in his delicately conveyed way with a vocal and the striking complexity of his idiosyncratic keyboard work — things that often got lost in a band of such outsized, polished talent as Toto, back in the day. Not anymore. Steve Porcaro is allowed to explore out to the edges of his musical vistas here, and the results are as involving as they are gorgeous. Narratively, “Bend” works almost as an answer to the roiling worries of “It’s a Feeling,” arriving in a moment of long-view acceptance when it comes to such matters of the heart.

That makes “Bend” a perfectly attenuated addendum to Toto XIV, which elsewhere underscores such a flinty maturity. Of course, Steve Porcaro’s presence on this album (due March 20, 2015 in Europe; in the UK and Oceania on March 23; and North America on March 24 via Frontiers) also completes a larger connection to Toto’s history, in siblings Mike and Jeff Porcaro’s devastating absence.

Yet the free-spirited Steve Porcaro — there from the beginning, creating both songs and intriguing synth asides for Toto through 1987, then only contributing occasionally before returning full time in 2010 — somehow got lost in the band’s continuing narrative. “Bend” makes a larger point, though, about his underrated role in Toto.

You realize all at once: Steve Porcaro was (and is) Toto’s secret weapon.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
Share this:
Close