Toto, “Lion” from Isolation (1984): Toto Tuesdays

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“Lion,” the second song on Toto’s 1984 album Isolation, has an almost Turn Back-era feel. Perhaps part of the reason is due to the contributions of former Toto vocalist Bobby Kimball, who co-wrote “Lion” with David Paich.

The track incorporates a direct and slightly behind the beat drum pattern from Jeff Porcaro, which supports the main riff of Steve Lukather’s guitar. Toto has a knack for tying in complete synthesizer parts into hard rock songs and “Lion” does so perfectly. Paich’s organ/synth sound is part of the main theme, but the real muscle in the song is provided by vocalist Fergie Frederiksen.

Frederiksen was dismissed from the band after the Isolation tour, partially because of his imprecision in laying down vocals in the studio but here, on his first solo lead on the album, he sings the verses expertly – offering both exactness and power. “Lion” even features a Jerry Hey horn arrangement and Lenny Castro-driven percussion ensemble for a touch of Toto IV too.

Lyrically direct yet with a playful turn on the word “lion,” this song is sharp, funky and precise. The middle solos by Steve Porcaro and Steve Lukather draw the distinction between this and lesser AOR songs of the era, while Steve Lukather’s end solo is the stuff of Toto legend.

Yet with all the goodness processed in “Lion,” I’d love to hear the original version with the Bobby Kimball vocal. How about a Toto box set?

Toto Tuesdays is a song-by-song feature that explores the rich musical history of Toto. The group returned last year 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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