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

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“Africa,” the last song on Toto IV, represents an end in many respects for the band.

Original Toto bassist David Hungate ended his tenure with a dramatic flourish, leaving the studio and – until the tour in support of Toto XVI, anyway – never looking back. Hungate, unbeknownst to his bandmates, had moved his wife and newborn son to Nashville prior to the recording of Toto IV. When asked to meet in the band’s rehearsal space to prepare for an extended tour, Hungate declined. He also did not appear in any of the Toto IV videos.

Meanwhile, Toto lead singer Bobby Kimball also saw his initial tenure end with this studio project. Kimball, who’s vocal harmonies and chorus parts blended seamlessly with Steve Lukather’s and Timothy B. Schmit’s backing vocals on “Africa,” was fired after the Toto IV tour.

Hungate’s innovative bass and Kimball’s harmonies are just two elements that made “Africa” a signature Toto song.

Jeff Porcaro’s loop integrated with Lenny Castro’s conga created one of the most memorable drum parts in rock history, and earned Porcaro a cowriting nod. The rhythm signature, which seems somewhat similar to that later used on the Donald Fagen’s “The Goodbye Look,” also served as the bed for which Joe Porcaro lays his marimba parts, and on which David Paich places his Yamaha CS-80 Kalimba. Paich and Steve Porcaro seamlessly tie in their synthesizers, and sax legend Jim Horn employs a recorder to further enhance the sound.

Every piece of “Africa” works, and the Paich-sung lyrics reflect a youthful naïveté of the protagonist which makes the song an enduring classic. Try as they might, Toto would never sound like this again. Fortunately, they didn’t try to recreate the Toto IV formula on their 1984 follow up Isolation.

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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