Toto, “Mama” from Hydra (1979): Toto Tuesdays

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After the Hydra rocker “All Us Boys,” Toto moves back into solid R&B/funk territory with “Mama.” The David Paich/Bobby Kimball collaboration continues down the fuzzy road of lyrical imagery with references to a failed relationship, infidelity and drug dependency.

Kimball delivers his best vocal on this 1979 album, working solidly in his upper tenor register while singing with Sam Cooke’s soulfulness and Steve Perry’s power. His voice is filled with aching desperation, which totally fits the mood. Backing vocals from Toto’s Steve Lukather and David Paich are a perfect contrast. “Mama” would fit perfectly on a Boz Scaggs album.

Mama, I don’t love you anymore
Money’s got me crawlin’ on the floor
Lover, I’m so ashamed that I must go
Funny somehow I thought by now you’d know…

Despite how strong the vocals are, there are many pearls on this song. David Paich and Steve Lukather offer honky tonk and progressive rock solos respectively. Indeed Lukather’s solo initially seems out of place yet provides a perfect contract. Toto’s Steve Porcaro has a supporting synthesizer role, but yet again adds just the right amount of flavor to the stew. His introduction, with the swirling synth touches, is magical.

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Perhaps the highlight is the groove David Hungate and Jeff Porcaro lay down. I’ve said a few times during this series that Hungate is a secret weapon for Toto. His impact on “Mama” is no secret. It’s funky, precise and innovative. His bass slides are forceful and surprising. Jeff Porcaro is not to be outdone, however, with a precise and innovative shuffle and orchestrated tom-tom runs that are uniquely his.

The result: Toto’s “Mama” is a classic.

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; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at
Preston Frazier
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