Toto, “Rosanna” from Toto IV (1982): Toto Tuesdays

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Toto IV was an unlikely mega hit, but it was a long time coming. The album recalls a time when record labels had faith in bands and invested in their longevity and artistry.

Toto’s fourth album represented a major investment for Columbia Records after 1979’s Hydra and 1981’s Turn Back failed to reach the heights of the band’s debut — both artistically and commercially. While each of those earlier studio efforts had overarching themes which were not fully realized, the foundation of Toto IV was similar to that of their 1978 self-titled debut album with a very satisfying mixture of styles, vocalist and familiar themes.

“Rosanna,” the leadoff single, is a perfect blend of the best Toto elements. The David Paich composition starts with a powerful shuffle from Jeff Porcaro, which was heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham’s performance on the song “Fool In the Rain.” Porcaro also adds elements from Bernard Purdie’s work on the Steely Dan song “Babylon Sisters.”

The basic track for “Rosanna,” like all the songs on Toto IV except “Africa” was recorded live by famed engineer Al Schmidt. Schmidt was able to capture every nuance in the band’s playing. The tambourine, David Hungate’s thumping and the congas all sound vivid and alive. The interaction between Jeff Porcaro, David Hungate, David Paich and Steve Lukather produced inspired rhythm tracks. The songs were all produced by Toto, but Paich took the lead in casting the song which featured joint lead vocals by Steve Lukather and Bobby Kimball.

One of the most intricate parts on the album is the synthesizer solo section after the second verse, which was arranged and played by Steve Porcaro over sessions that were rumored to have taken several days. Additionally, the song contains a piano solo at the end by David Paich and two overdubbed guitar solos. Steve Lukather’s solos for the album and many of his guitar parts were overdubbed, even though he played with the rhythm section for the basic tracks.

Jerry Hey was brought in to arrange the moving horn parts, which featured James Pankow of Chicago on trombone, Jim Horn and Tom Scott on saxophone in addition to Hey on trumpet. Additionally, the sonic scope of Toto’s “Rosanna” was enhanced by Tom Kelly on background vocals, and Lenny Castro on congas.

The overdubbed parts were brilliantly captured in the mix by Greg Ladanyi. He and Schmidt shared a Grammy award for best engineered album in 1982. “Rosanna,” which went to No. 2 on the singles chart in the U.S., also won for instrumental arrangement for vocals and vocal arrangement a Grammy for best record and Toto won for producer of the year. How’s that for a comeback story!

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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