What I’ve Been Listening to: Toto/The Seventh One

I fully expect Toto is going to elicit different reactions from readers, ranging from excellent to rather mediocre. Let there be no doubt where I stand: While like every band some of Toto’s songs were more compelling than others, overall, I really dig these guys for their outstanding musicianship and, yes, many of their catchy and well executed pop-rock tunes. The Seventh One from March 1988 is probably my favorite album.

My initial introduction to Toto was Hold the Line, a track from their eponymous debut album from October 1978. It was included on a compilation titled The Rock Album – The Best of Today’s Rock Music, which came out in 1980. A friend gave it to me as a present on music cassette. Then came Toto IV from April 1982, and songs like Rosanna, Africa and I Won’t Hold You Back, which each received extensive radio play in Germany. I was hooked!

Toto’s next two albums, Isolation and Fahrenheit from October 1984 and August 1986, respectively, didn’t excite me as much. As a result, the band started fading a bit from my radar screen. And then The Seventh One was released. I dug this album right from the get-go.

Since Toto IV, the band’s line-up had changed. Lead vocalist Bobby Kimball and bassist David Hungate, who were both part of Toto’s initial members, had been replaced by Joseph Williams and Mike Porcaro, respectively. But frankly, I don’t feel this impacted the quality of the album at all. Let’s get to some music!

I’d like to kick it off with the opener Pamela, co-written by David Paich (keyboards, backing vocals) and Joseph Williams. The tune was also released separately as the lead single in February 1988 ahead of the album. Apart from its catchy melody, I dig Jeff Pocaro’s drums part in particular including the cool breaks. To me, Pocaro was one of the best drummers in rock and pop. Of course, the caveat here is I don’t play the drums myself. But I suppose if you were good enough to pass the audition for perfectionists Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, you must have been a bloody good drummer! Not to mention countless other top-notch artists like Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, Pink Floyd and Bruce Springsteen, to name a few.

Here’s a tune guitarist Steve Lukather considers to be one of his best compositions: Anna. He co-wrote the ballad with Randy Goodrum, an American songwriter, pianist and producer. In August 1988, it also became the album’s third single.

Stop Loving You with its upbeat groove just is an infectious pop song. Co-written by Lukather and Paich, the track also appeared as the album’s fourth single. While it did well in Europe, hitting no. 2 in each The Netherlands and Belgium and reaching no. 37 in Italy, it didn’t chart in the U.S. Here’s the official video.

Ready for some rock? How about that and with a little help from Linda Ronstadt on vocals and some smoking lap steel guitar by David Lindley? Here’s Stay Away, another Paich-Lukather co-write. Perhaps, they should have released that one as a single!

And since it’s so much fun, how about another pop rocker: Only the Children, co-written by Paich, Lukather and Williams.

Let’s end things on a quieter note with another ballad: A Thousand Years. I actually would have bet that Lukather had a role in writing the tune. But nope, it was co-written by Williams, Paich and Mark Towner Williams.

While Toto and Columbia Records were confident The Seventh One was one of the band’s strongest albums to date, its chart performance remained far below expectations. In part, Wikipedia attributes this to upheaval at the record company with president Al Teller’s departure right in the wake of Pamela’s release. Apparently, this led to waning promotion of the song that ended up stalling at no. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 – not exactly terrible, but certainly a huge difference to Africa and Rosanna, which had peaked at no. 1 and no. 2 in the U.S., respectively. Of course, chart performance is a double-edged indicator to begin with. Just look at today’s charts!

Sources: Wikipedia; YouTube

17 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Listening to: Toto/The Seventh One”

      1. That’s a good way of looking at it. I have noticed over the past few years that you are pretty positive in your posts. I try to be! I would agree with you as far as the members of Toto being fine musicians. Jeez I made two nice Toto comments!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. yes! My Mount Rushmore- The Osmonds/ Donny Osmond/ Donny and Marie/ and Lief Garrett [ he comes to mind- I see he has a new rock autobiography out… read it for me and tell me if its any good- it should be better than his ‘music’ was. Yes I agree it makes life interesting different likes in music- and everything else. I think we agree on at least 95% of music by the way. Keep up the good work.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I knew I was hitting on a favorite of yours- you probably have the single!… I think he also had a hit covering maybe a beach boys song- I could be wrong..

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Garrett has had a rough life since his late 70’s few moments of fame. He certainly doesn’t look like a ‘teen idol’ today at 58. Maybe I will get the book the library- i certainly wouldn’t purchase it!..

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  1. The musicianship in that band is huge. Steve Lukather is one of the best guitarist in this time. He plays on so many records. I saw him with Ringo and he did Africa and Rosanna.

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  2. Great choice, Christian. Thanks for highlighting this classic album. Hopefully you’ll inspire some people to check it out for the first time. The Seventh One just might be my favorite Toto album, and it’s certainly in the top 2 or 3. As someone who took his first drum lesson more than 45 years ago I can verify that Jeff Porcaro was, in fact, one of the all-time greats. This past weekend I watched a 45-minute Q&A he did back in the mid- to late-’80s on YouTube, answering questions from behind his drum kit. It was very informative & enjoyable. He seemed like an interesting guy and other musicians clearly loved him.

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    1. Thanks! Did you also watch “your boys” this weekend? On Sat, Led Zeppelin’s amazing 2007 reunion gig at London’s O2 arena premiered on their YouTube channel.

      I already watched it twice – they really killed it that night!🎸

      The stream is still up until tomorrow, just in case!😀

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      1. I bought the Celebration Day CD/DVD set when it was released and I’ve watched & listened to it several times. I agree that they did kill it that night. Amazing to think that Page broke a finger a month or two earlier which resulted in the original date of the show being pushed back. You would never know he had just recovered from an injury. I seem to be in the minority of Zeppelin fans who are fine with Plant’s decision not to continue after that gig. Who needs a bunch of bad cell phone footage of a subsequent tour when they would likely not sound as good as they did at the O2?

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      2. Wow, I had no idea about Paige’s injury. Reminds me of Jagger’s heart valve replacement surgery and then touring barely three months thereafter last year. He was by far the most agile person on that stage when I saw them! They may be “old rockers”, but they’re tough!😀

        As for Zep doing another gig, you’re probably right that it would have been impossible to match that O2 performance – as cool as it would have been for more fans to see them!

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