Toto, “Gift of Faith” from Tambu (1995): Toto Tuesdays

Share this:

Following the untimely and tragic death of founding member and drummer Jeff Porcaro in 1992, the future of Toto was in question. A tour to support Kingdom of Desire was already booked across 1992-93, and with the blessing of the Porcaro family, the band managed to honor their commitments with replacement drummer Simon Phillips – the first and only drummer considered for the chair.

At the conclusion of this tour, I imagine Toto needed time to heal and mourn the loss of their brother and friend, as well as take stock and decide upon their future together. From a fan’s perspective, the question that hung heavily wasn’t about the direction of the next album. More so, it was whether or not the band would continue.

It was not until 1995, than an answer came – in the form of a new studio album, Tambu.

I remember picking this up the day it was released. The cover alone foretold a major change of direction. Gone was the familiar sword motif and any atmospheric imagery or artistic sketches. Instead a dog-eared paperback sitting atop an aged table with an ashtray, some coins, and an antique watch pointed to a realism Toto was willing to share or, at least, wanted to convey. Older and wiser, weathered and perhaps weary: If they were looking for symbolism to represent their personal journey this was fitting.

Along this same line, the sound of the album also brought honesty to the fore. On Tambu, Toto are stripped back, breathing and natural – not over-produced. In no small part, this is attributable to Simon Phillips’ drum kit, as well as the recording efforts of Elliot Scheiner, Al Schmitt and Bill Smith. (They deservedly earned a Grammy nomination for best engineered album, non classical, in 1997.)

Capturing the spirit and sentiment of this direction, the opening “Gift of Faith” is a compelling introduction. Written by Steve Lukather, Stan Lynch and David Paich, it opens in a somewhat anthemic style, with heavy guitars from Lukather and a straight-forward rock beat from Phillips. The sound is fresh, vibrant and direct.

The lyrics, sung expressively by Steve Lukather, go some way in revealing the state of mind the band must have been in.

All this pain surrounding me; hopelessness is all that I see now.
Does it have to be this way?
Brought up on hypocrisy, the seeds they sow don’t last forever,
They just fade away…

This sense of anguish is not unexpected and it is a recurring theme throughout Tambu: A sentiment of serious reflection permeates the whole album. However, it is not all gloom and doom. The chorus brings in a hook which is genuine chant-along material, intoning listeners to accept the gift of faith.

We can make it if we’d only take the gift of faith.
We can change it if we’d just accept the gift of faith.

The message seems genuine and might be fairly construed as a reflection on what worked for them in the intervening years since Jeff’s passing.

The musicianship on the track is rock solid and unadorned. Firm guitar, thumping bass and a dirty organ help build out the sound; it’s a grass roots approach to band interplay. Further along (clocking in at 7 minutes and 23 seconds, this is the longest cut on the album), Toto pay particular attention to the vocals. In the bridge, there is a Beatles-esque montage about opening our minds and the outro features Jenny Douglas-McRae ad-libbing in a gospel fashion to an extended jam – atop some exceptional double-kick drumming from Simon.

“Gift of Faith” is a symbolic track and a first in many respects. New drummer, new direction and new sound – a rebirth of sorts. If there were any doubts about Toto’s future, they were resoundingly dispelled with this opener.

Toto Tuesdays is a song-by-song feature that explores the band’s rich musical history. They returned with three new songs on 2018’s ’40 Trips Around the Sun.’

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
Share this: