Toto, “Out of Love” from Past to Present (1990): Toto Tuesdays

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Toto’s Past to Present: 1977-1990 was my first introduction to their deeper back catalog. I practically played this CD to death, reveling in some of the hits we’ve covered as part of the Toto Tuesdays series, but also feeling genuinely excited for the new sound and potential of the early ’90s Toto.

Alas, as many know, the Jean-Michel Byron era was short lived, but it did provide four contributions to the repertoire. Perhaps the strongest – at least from the perspective of songs that are still being performed live – was “Out of Love.”

Co-written by Steve Lukather and Byron, this track is a soulful ballad, and is a marked evolution in the Toto sound. The arrangement is sparse and almost back to basics, but also displays a greater dynamism and interplay between Toto when compared to their previous productions.

For example, “Out of Love” opens with a delicate lilt of acoustic guitar, piano and bass with a subtle shuffle from Jeff Porcaro. It is very stripped back and, fittingly, this allows Byron’s vocal to be showcased. In fairness to him, it has to be said that he delivers superbly here. Jean-Michel Byron’s voice is right on for this track: wistful, poignant, and vulnerably exposed at the tail end of the chorus. As “Out of Love” progresses, he lifts and lifts – becoming more emotionally charged. It really is a refined and well-controlled performance.

In fact, to my mind, it is the combined performance of the band and Byron that really sets this track apart from the other new Past to Present tracks.

“Out of Love” just builds effortlessly. After the intro, the subtle introduction of David Paich’s B3 alongside the deft, deep anchoring bass from Mike Porcaro help add color to the mix. The refined, yet powerful, drive from Jeff and the backing choir then help shift the track into a different gear as the chorus hits. The standout, though, is the solo from Steve Lukather. It is an achingly beautiful piece of work, and accurately captures the heartache and longing the lover must be feeling. Close your eyes when you listen to it: Truly inspired.

To coincide with the release of Past to Present, Toto also issued a VHS cassette (remember them?) and the video for this song is well worth a watch. The setting is a bar room rehearsal, interspersed with a lover’s story. It shows the band in an intimate performance setting (with some great close-up shots of them playing) and is beautifully captured and edited as a continuous long left-to-right tracking shot. Very evocative and fitting, I still love watching this clip.

Looking back, I think watching the video reinforced my feeling that this was a new chapter for Toto in the early ’90s. In a way, it certainly was a new chapter for them – albeit a brief one.

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.

Anthony Sonego

Anthony Sonego

Anthony Sonego is a long-time Toto fan (and synth-nerd) from Down Under. It’s tragic, but if you ask him about achieving blip or the accumulation of subtleties, he can help you program it. Contact Something Else! at
Anthony Sonego
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