Toto, “Angel Don’t Cry” from Isolation (1984): Toto Tuesdays

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“Angel Don’t Cry” may be a high point for Toto on its fifth album. The song captures many of the elements which make Toto a truly great band.

Songwriters David Paich and Fergie Frederiksen don’t waste too many words, as “Angel Don’t Cry” essentially has two verses, two bridges and a chorus, yet it flows effortlessly with just a hint of urgency. Frederiksen delivers his strongest vocal on Isolation, changing keys half way during the second verse with reach and precision. Furthermore, the lyrics illustrate a dichotomy of an angel whose ability to capture souls paints a picture of something entirely different.

Uncanny woman
You weaved your spell on me
I was taken by the look in your eyes
For all the wrong reasons
You must have been a spiteful child
Full of anger
Raised by the hand of a duchess, a mother and a heathen…

Jeff Porcaro’s drumming is straight forward yet nuanced, as you would expect from him. His fills are lightning fast and cymbal work is brilliant. Mike Porcaro’s bass parts are the anchor of the song, with not a note wasted. Surprisingly, for such a hard rocking song, the keyboards stand out. David Paich provides the rhythmic foundation with his synthesizer while Steve Porcaro provided synthesizer accents; however, the dueling solo section that Paich and Steve Porcaro play during the middle section is pure genius.

Paich starts his synth run with a few bars are tasty licks, but Steve Porcaro quickly comes in with a faster counter melody. Paich then changes his synthesizer patch to a more orchestral one, and Steve Porcaro tops that with a sequenced end run. The keyboard solo section is less than 30 seconds, but is as complex as anything on pop radio at that time. Steve Lukather, who has been repeating the song’s main theme up until this point, delivers yet another brief yet burning guitar solo — which both screams from end to end yet is lyrical in nature.

To wrap things up, the song revisits the bridge then Steve Lukather is given 30 more seconds to provide pure guitar ecstasy. “Angel Don’t Cry” should have been the leadoff single from the album, showcasing their new lead singer. Unfortunately, as the fourth single released in America, it was overlooked and failed to chart.

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