The second track from Toto’s 1986 album Fahrenheit is an interesting one to classify: It’s not a ballad, nor does it carry any hard-rock edge or progressive pretense; I guess, at a base level, “We Can Make It Tonight” is pure mid-’80s pop.
Co-written by Barry Bregman (his first and only co-writing credit for a Toto album), Jeff Porcaro and Joseph Williams, the song opens with a sparse keyboard/synth motif before settling into a cross-stick backed groove.
From a vocal perspective, the verse serves as a good platform for Joseph Williams to connect; he makes the case with his earnest, somewhat imploring, style of delivery. During the chorus, Williams is able to bring it up a notch and demonstrates his range and power with a more emphatic performance, lifting “We Can Make It Tonight” in the process.
This is all well and good from an arrangement perspective and as a showcase for Toto’s new vocalist but, as a criticism, the material he has to deliver comes across as clichéd – a point which Steve Lukather later conceded: “I mean they used to give us s— about lyrics and in many cases they were right.”
We can make it tonight
If you give me the sign
And I’ll be by your side
I’ve got the feeling it’s right
We can make it in time
We can make it tonight
… This would be one of those cases.
Vocals and lyrics aside, if we consider the instrumental performances, there are two take-outs from this Toto track worth mentioning:
One: the keyboard solo sounds. Although they were probably representative of presets from that era, I don’t think they’ve stood the test of time well. They are somewhat anemic and the Africa styled synth-horns are not majestic at all in this context. That’s just for this track though. Fahrenheit, as an album, offers perhaps more synth wizardry from Steve Porcaro (and Amin Bhatia) than any other Toto album – but that’s for later on.
Two: Mike Porcaro on bass. He plays with more authority (on this track and, as previously mentioned, on the entirety of this album), offering some impeccable descending lines and great interplay during the guitar solo. It’s a sign of growing assurance as his role solidified in Toto.
“We Can Make It Tonight” is considered by some an “upbeat pop gem,” and to a large degree that’s apt. For myself, however, it doesn’t register as many play counts as the rest of Toto’s Fahrenheit.
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