Toto, “Love Has the Power” from Past to Present (1990): Toto Tuesdays

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After pushing play on Toto’s greatest hits collection, appropriately titled Past to Present: 1977-1990, it would only be fitting to ask what the hell happened? The lead-off track and single “Love Has the Power” seems to have little in common with “Home of the Brave,” the last song on 1988’s The Seventh One – or the bonus instrumental “The Seventh One.” But after a few listens, it’s clear that this is, indeed, Toto.

For one thing, though it was written by new frontman Jean-Michel Byron, “Love Has the Power” has an unmistakable Toto feel. (The song was co-written with John Capek, who has a solid AOR writing and playing history.) Byron kicks off with the bold vocal intro amid touches of programmed horns presumably provided by David Paich. Quickly the groove is established by Paich’s piano and Steve Lukather’s tight singular Dean Parks-like guitar.

“Love Has the Power” has no fat, as Jeff Porcaro’s back beat is muscular and as funky as anything he’s done. Mike Porcaro finds a nasty groove to propel the song forward, filling up just the right amount of space. I’d argue that the four new songs on Past to Present are some of the best vehicles for Mike Porcaro’s playing, as his groove is seemingly liberated by the sessions. Luis Conte’s bongos add a little spice, but the core of the song’s power comes from Paich’s piano and Hammond organ and the bluesy and provocative Lukather guitar solo.

What about Jean-Michel Byron, you ask? The South African’s compositional skills are strong on all the tracks he co-wrote. Here, the uplifting message is direct and focused. The music is equally strong, giving each member of Toto something to grab on to. As Toto’s fourth lead singer, he acquits himself well, effectively using his range and falsetto throughout “Love Has the Power.” He would appear to be a perfect replacement for Joseph Williams, who was forced to leave the band after two wonderful albums.

Of course, we know that Toto is driving down a crooked road, and that an unfortunate breakdown loomed dead ahead. Past to Present: 1977-1990 sold well worldwide, but “Love Has the Power” failed to chart – and the album stalled at No. 153 in the U.S. It’s a shame, because a pair of Byron’s co-written songs here ended up ranking with the best Toto has ever done. We will get to one of those next time.


Toto Tuesdays is a song-by-song feature that explores the rich musical history of Toto. The group returned with ‘Toto XIV’ in 2015, their first album in nearly a decade.

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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