Toto, “St. George and the Dragon” from Hydra (1979): Toto Tuesdays

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Obviously, since I am writing Toto Tuesdays, I have a deep love for Toto’s body of work. There are a few Toto songs, however, which either confound me — or I just don’t like. For years, “St. George and the Dragon,” one of the singles from Toto’s 1979 album Hydra, fit into both categories.

Strangely, the song is now one of my Toto favorites. How did this magical transformation take place? I submit “St. George and The Dragon” must be listened to in the context of the album. This David Paich-penned composition follows the title track, which establishes the albums prog-rock ethos. In “St. George and the Dragon,” the mythical theme is advanced with the protagonist chasing the Hydra and winning the princess’ freedom.

Does he know that I’m a soldier of fortune
And not a victim of circumstance?
We drew lots for his soft underbelly
Now his fate is sealed with my lance

Lyrics that seemed cryptic when I was in high school almost make sense to me now: It’s a prog David and Goliath story. The song is only enhanced by some of Bobby Kimball’s strongest vocals on Hydra. He belts out the lyrics in fine rock fashion in a matter-of-fact manner, without a hint of irony.

Kimball is supported by a Toto back beat which is direct and rocking. David Paich proves that he’s one of the finest rock and roll piano players around, while Jeff Porcaro’s cowbell sets the rhythm off. With David Hungate playing his part straight down the middle, Steve Lukather’s guitar solos conjure images of Brian May. Everyone gets into the act, to the point that it’s easy to overlook finer details like the swirling synthesizer washes from Steve Porcaro or the stellar Paich/Lukather backing vocals.

Unfortunately, Toto’s “St. George and the Dragon” was overlooked by the buying public, failing to chart as the lead single from Hydra. Still, like a number of great Toto songs, its mythology has only grown with fans. And they’d have much better luck with the next one: a true Toto classic in “99.”

Toto Tuesdays is a song-by-song feature that explores the rich musical history of Toto. The group returned in 2015 with ‘Toto XIV,’ their 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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