Toto, “Turn Back” from Turn Back (1981): Toto Tuesdays

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The title track from Toto’s 1981 album Turn Back almost seems to be out of place, despite it being this album’s namesake. After all, Turn Back represents a shift to more direct, rock-oriented songs when compared to its predecessor, Hydra. Even the lyrics on the third album tend to veer toward relationships and more personal narratives.

The song “Turn Back,” however, contradicts that trend. Opening with a Moog synth lead by Steve Porcaro, the track then kicks in with straight-ahead rhythms from Jeff Porcaro and David Hungate. Steve Lukather’s guitar lead has a progressive-rock chorus effect, reminiscent of the best work from Queen’s Brian May. Bobby Kimball;s lead vocal is pitch perfect and emotive.

By the end of the first verse, “Turns Back” has cast a spell which would have fit perfectly on Hydra. Kimball’s lyrics are oblique, mystical and compelling. The music, presumably composed by cowriter Steve Lukather isn’t as progressive as that found on Hydra, but Toto’s production (along with Geoff Workman’s) is tidy and appropriate.

“Turn Back” stands the test of time well on its own, and elevates the album – even though it was miscast. The track is a perfect closer for the third Toto album, but the band chose the ballad “ If It’s The Last Night” for that task.


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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