Toto, “Georgy Porgy” from Toto (1978): Toto Tuesdays

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We are only three songs into Toto’s history and we hit another classic. The Steve Lukather-sung single “Georgy Porgy” didn’t burn up the charts for Toto, peaking on the Billboard 100 at No. 48 but the song made a dint elsewhere. “Georgy Porgy” reached No. 18 on the R&B chart — and even made the dance chart.

Not too shabby for a band which was equally at home in the MOR and prog rock worlds.

Toto’s success was “Georgy Porgy” was due to some obvious factors, namely Steve Lukather’s stellar vocal delivery and understated slide guitar solo — as well as Jeff Porcaro’s ability to execute a fantastic shuffle amid dramatic stop-time passages. Both elements are widely recognized, but there’s much more than meets the eye: Toto’s funk secret weapon turns out to be bassist David Hungate.

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Hungate, a key part of Boz Scaggs’ Silk Degrees sessions, brings a distinctive and driving reinforcement to Porcaro’s backbeat. On “Georgy Porgy,” his impact in evident. Musicians don’t get more versatile than Hungate who, after his stint with Toto, moved to Nashville to become an accomplished session career and stellar producer.

For most bands, these elements would be enough but Toto’s production added subtle elements of conga from Lenny Castro, a string arrangement from Marty Paich — composer David Paich’s father — and a soulful background vocal from then-up and comer Cheryl Lynn. Lynn also benefited from David Paich’s production and songwriting acumen, with his contribution of her debut album.

“Georgy Porgy” also seems to have had more than a passing influence on “Chinatown,” a song on the upcoming Toto XIV album which saw its foundation from this early period of the band. Considering the basis of “Georgy Porgy” was a child’s nursery rhyme, this song’s reach remains pretty impressive.

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.

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