Toto, which has just released its first Billboard-charting album since 1990, confirmed this shared bill earlier today. The well-received Toto XIV has, in fact, debuted in the Top 10 across nine countries. Together with the buzz surrounding these shows with Yes — they’re touring behind Heaven and Earth, Yes’ first studio effort with frontman Jon Davison — Toto arrives at U.S. stages on a roll.
“This could be the best couple of years that we’ve had for Toto in decades and decades,” Lukather says, in an exclusive Something Else! Sitdown. “I’m shocked, but in the most positive way. It’s going to be a different energy level on stage this time.”
In truth, however, what seems like one of the year’s more offbeat pairings actually has a lengthy history.
Founding Yes frontman Jon Anderson provided backing vocals on the single version for Toto’s “Stop Loving You,” a Joseph Williams-sung 1988 song by Steve Lukather and David Paich. That trio of Toto members was joined by the Porcaro brothers (late drummer Jeff, late bassist Mike and stalwart keyboardist Steve) on Jon Anderson’s In the City of Angels, also from 1988. Paich co-wrote two songs, one of which — “Top of the World” — featured Lukather, Steve and Jeff Porcaro, Paich and Williams. Paich and Jeff and Mike Porcaro also play on Anderson’s “If It Wasn’t For Love” and “Is It Me.”
Steve Lukather was John Wetton’s first choice to replace Steve Howe when he decided to stop pulling double duty in Asia and focus on his work with Yes in 2013. Lukather earlier worked with current Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes on “Days Like These,” from Asia’s gold-selling 1990 greatest hits package Then and Now. Later, Toto’s Steve Lukather, and Mike and Steve Porcaro appeared with Yes’ Alan White and Geoff Downes on former Yes member Billy Sherwood’s 2005 Pink Floyd tribute album Back Against the Wall, which included a memorable update of “Hey You.”
There’s a deeper musical connection, too. Toto has long leaned toward a similar brand of prog, going all the way back to 1979’s Hydra. That often-overlooked sensibility, in fact, continues through to Toto XIV. “You can hear some of it in our new music,” Lukather confirms. “‘Great Expectations’ is a huge nod to 1970s prog rock like Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd. It’s all in there. Shameless nods to our heroes? Sure. Why not? I’m not ashamed of that. Our favorite music shaped us into who we are.”
True story: When Toto was in the studio, working on “Great Expectations” — a track which serves as the epic closer for Toto XIV — Lukather ended up taking over bass duties. Here’s what he had to say about that session: “I was channeling my inner Chris Squire today.”
In other words: All that’s left is for the two separate fanbases to begin blending at venues nationwide. “We may win over fans; they may win over fans,” Lukather adds. “All I know is, we love the guys. They’re one of my favorite bands of all time.”
(SometingElseReviews.com, Nick DeRiso, April 6th 2015)