Thursday, January 07, 2010

Toto - Live @ Montreux 5/7/1991

By 1991 Toto had more than proven themselves. They'd had a string of hits in the eighties and a mantle full of Grammy Awards collected for Toto IV and Rosanna at the 1983 Grammy Awards.

They also had soldiered through a revolving door of lead singers-- Bobby Kimball, Fergie Frederiksen, Joseph Williams, and Jean-Michel Byron (the last of which the band and most fans try to forget).

But you take the good with the bad and after the sour taste that Byron had left them with, Toto decided to soldier on with guitarist Steve Lukather handling the lion's share of lead vocals.

The 1991 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland was the first glimpse Toto gave of their then upcoming album, Kingdom of Desire.

What the band didn't know, and couldn't have known at the time was that this would end up being one of Jeff Porcaro's final concerts with the band before his untimely passing in August 1992. As such this bootleg is arguably the highest quality and one of the only bootlegs available featuring Porcaro playing material from his final album with the band.

Toto's set starts out with the fiery On the Run (which, incidentally, didn't make it onto Kingdom of Desire) an uptempo rocker, and easily one of the heaviest and hardest rocking songs that Toto had ever recorded. It would not have sounded out of place on Kingdom of Desire which ended up being, arguably, Toto's heaviest, hardest, and rawest album. (On the Run did inevitably make it onto Toto's 1997 twentieth anniversary rarities collection, XX.)

The band also plays Kingdom of Desire and the intensely grooving instrumental Jake to the Bone from Jeff Porcaro's final album.

In addition to the new material the band also dips into their back catalog with the Lukather penned and sung ballad I'll Be Over You, the smash hits-- Africa, Rosanna, and Hold the Line. In the absence of a regular tenor vocalist on Rosanna and Hold the Line Toto taps background singers (Fred White and Jenny Douglas respectively) to handle the tenor vocals. At times the background singers are equal to the task but for the most part their vocals fall thin compared to Bobby Kimball's vocals on the originals.

A couple of covers round out Toto's set, the Hendrix cover Red House that lets Steve Lukather cut his teeth a bit more on guitar and the seemingly out of place throwaway Ike & Tina Turner cover, I Wanna Take You Higher featuring Toto's female back-up singers (Jenny Douglas & Jackie McGhee) singing lead. While this cover might not have sounded out of place at a Toto concert in the late seventies, given the rest of the songs in this early nineties set, it sounds woefully out of place and sticks out like a sore thumb.

That being said, this bootleg is definitely worth adding to any collection largely on the strength of On the Run, Jake to the Bone, Kingdom of Desire, and the Hendrix cover Red House. And for any Toto fan, this is a must given its significance as the first time any material from Kingdom of Desire was performed live (and by Jeff Porcaro to boot!).

Related Links
Kingdom of Desire (wikipedia)
Toto (official site)
Jeff Porcaro (wikipedia)
Steve Lukather (official site)
Steve Lukather (wikipedia)
David Paich (wikipedia)
Mike Porcaro (wikipedia)


Sean Coleman said...

Jeff Porcaro was a force. These guys are seriously fine musicians. Loved the tunes, sir. Thanks again.

Perplexio said...

Sean: Glad you enjoyed the tunes. Porcaro was indeed a force... He was "present" in Toto long after his passing. He remained a member of Toto in spirit long after he'd shuffled loose his mortal coil.

The epitaph on his tombstone is a song lyric taken from the song Wings of Time:

"Our love doesn't end here. It lives forever on the wings of time."