Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Toto Tribute Album

In this post, I will write of an imaginary album I'd like to see (the first of more posts like this to come). This album is a tribute album to the Rock band Toto by successful names in Classic Rock, with some being very big names. For those of you unfamiliar with Toto, Toto is an American Rock band formed in 1977 whose hits include ‘Africa’, ‘Rosanna’, ‘Hold The Line’, ‘I Won’t Hold You Back’, ‘I’ll Be Over You’. When Toto formed, their line-up was Steve Lukather - guitar & vocals, David Paich - keyboards & vocals, Steve Porcaro - keyboards & vocals, David Hungate - bass, Jeff Porcaro - drums and Bobby Kimball - lead vocals. In the current line-up Steve Lukather, David Paich and Steve Porcaro remain with Joseph Williams as their lead vocalist. The songs I selected come from their original line-up except for ‘I’ll Be Over You’ that’s from 1986. As I like Piano in Rock music, and also when the singers themselves play it, I am envisioning most of the singers playing Piano. I will give some ideas of how their versions of the songs can go in the section about the songs.

As this is a personal selection of mine there are some Toto songs highly regarded or popular not included here. Some of what I write about these songs will be short giving the reader more room for imagination for these covers. This list comprises 12 Toto hits and album tracks by artists that I think could make a version of these songs that I’d like. What's interesting is that most (if not all) of these artists have worked with at least 1 of the Toto members as a session musician and some even appeared on a Toto album. However, I won't be listing their connection with Toto as that will make this post go on too long.

Elton John & Bob Seger - Rosanna
I'll start with my 2 favourite singers Elton John & Bob Seger. This version would have Elton's original band members who are still with him Davey Johnstone (Lead Guitar) and Nigel Olsson (Drums) as well as the Original Members of Bob Seger's Silver Bullet Band who are still with him Alto Reed (Saxophone), Craig Frost (Organ) and Chris Campbell (Bass) with Elton on Piano, Bob on Guitar and a horn section like on the original. As the original had 2 lead vocalists, I envision Elton singing Steve Lukather's part and Bob Seger singing Bobby Kimball's part. The synth solo section would be replaced with back and forth interaction between Alto Reed and the Horn Section.

Michael McDonald - Make Believe
Michael McDonald was the singer Toto originally wanted who's closely connected to them and I think that he could really sing a great version of this song with his powerful voice with him obviously playing Piano.

Boz Scaggs - Georgy Porgy
Toto Keyboardist David Paich co-wrote some songs with Boz for his successful “Silk Degrees” album and as Boz even recorded an unreleased Toto song (until it appeared on the “Toto XX: 1977-1997” album) ‘Miss Sun’ which became a US hit, this song which David wrote could have been something Boz did as it has a Rock/Soul feel. As Michael McDonald and he have similarities and toured together, I put their 2 songs together.

Don Henley - I’ll Supply The Love
This song suits Don Henley's voice and I can imagine him singing this. He would play Drums on this and I envision his version being less Progressive Rock than the original.

Richard Marx - It’s a Feeling
It's time for a real ballad to slow things down. Richard would play Piano on this.

Journey - Hold The Line
This would be interesting as both Toto & Journey were popular American bands around the same time whose work went into Pop Rock, Hard Rock, Progressive Rock and they both were influenced by Jazz.

The Doobie Brothers - Manuela Run
This song could be done a bit like their hit ‘The Doctor’, but wouldn't have a section in the song where the Keyboards stop. The Doobie Brothers recently had Keyboardist Bill Payne who'd done session work for them join their touring band, so he'd play Piano and Organ and this version wouldn't have the synths of the original.

Jackson Browne - I’ll Be Over You
Jackson would play Piano on this song and I think his voice is a bit like Steve Lukather who sang the original.

I originally intended Glenn Frey to cover this song, but as he tragically passed away recently I had to choose someone else for this song. Interestingly, Glenn lived above Jackson in the early 70s in LA. RIP Glenn Frey.

Billy Joel - Africa
Even though this song has strong World Music influences, I think it has a bit of a Billy Joel vibe. The original had only a little Piano, but in this version after the intro the Piano would kick in more prominent than the original and be there for the whole song. The original is a bit like Billy's 'River of Dreams' which has a similar intro and he'd bring more of that song into this version including a Piano solo similar to that one.  

REO Speedwagon - I Won’t Hold You Back
Their lead singer Kevin Cronin would play Piano on this and this version would sound more like their hit ‘Can’t Fight This Feeling’.

Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood - St. George & the Dragon
Eric would sing the verses (Bobby Kimball part) and Steve would sing the choruses (David Paich part). Steve could sing the "I Can Tell By The" lines at the end very powerfully. I'm envisioning Steve playing Organ and/or Piano on this song. The Guitar parts would be altered to Eric's style.  

Steely Dan - 99
Donald Fagen would play Piano and this version would sound like a track off their debut album “Can’t Buy a Thrill” by using that style of arrangement. This would be interesting as Steely Dan is an influence of Toto.

What did you think of it? Are there other covers you'd like to see? Think a different song better suits an artist I chose? Have other ideas of where these covers could go? Have ideas of Producers for a song or the whole album? I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments. Hope you liked this post.  


  1. Hi Asela,
    I was very impressed by your Toto Tribute Album. Well done. You certainly have a very good knowledge of the music world and am sure an album of this nature would not only give tribute to Toto but would also sell like hot cakes. Keep listening to music and going places with it. Keep writing too!

    1. Thank you very much for your encouraging words. Glad you liked my post.

  2. Well done Asela. Inherited your mother's writing genes it seems. You definitely should keep writing.

  3. Wow Asela your aunt is certainly impressed. I was into pop singers and songs way back in the 60's and 70's but what you've written here is amazing! You've got me interested in some of these singers I knew nothing of!way to go!

    Aunty Sal

    1. Thank you very much for your encouraging words Aunty Sal. Glad you liked my post. :)

  4. Asela, I'm going to have to check out the songs after reading your descriptions...thanks! Indrajit

  5. Most interesting. Thanks for the inspiration to dust off my Toto LPs. I notice most tracks come from their first and fourth albums which were probably their strongest
    Boz Scaggs is a good choice for Georgy Porgy (a great song which I think would not have been out of place on Silk degrees). Michael McDonald would well suit Make Believe but I would also like to hear him doing Manuela Run (but I guess you had Tom Johnston in mind as lead singer of the Doobies).
    A nice concept Asela.


    1. Thanks Col. I think Toto's first and fouth albums are great. Yes, I did have Tom Johnston in mind for Manuela Run. So glad you liked it.