Fall, 1991. Freshman year at Nassau Community College. My good buddy Meat and I spent an equal amount of time driving to school, and cutting it altogether. And when we did show up on campus we spent most of our time singing and playing guitar on the student quad, just for the hell out of it (hence my 1.8 GPA!). One of the coolest things about that time was all the driving we did. Or should I say, HE did. Hey, I had a car, he didn’t. So YIS he was my personal chauffer since then, as now, I hated driving. One day he pops in a tape, and that tape happened to be none other than TOTO’S 1988 album The Seventh One. I can’t lie, I was in right from the beginning, and this record made sitting in Southern State/Meadowbrook traffic worth it.
I had heard leadoff song and first single “Pamela” and kind of dug it, but I never gave it my full attention until then. Realizing what an insanely talented band of musicians was coming out of my tape deck I soaked it all in. From vocalist Joseph Williams to guitarist extraordinaire Steve Lukather , keyboard virtuoso David Paich, and the thrilling combination of brothers Mike Porcaro and Jeff Porcaro on bass and drums respectively I was hooked and had to hear more. “You Got Me” though, was the song that REALLY did it for me. The fucking groove on this one has elements of jazz, pop, and rock, and will have you moving in your seat if you’re not already dancing, believe me. It was also at this point that Meat taught me how to identify some of the subtle things going on in the songs. Since he was a jazz-trained guitarist it was cool to learn these things from him. We even played in a band together for a while.
“Anna” is one of two songs that Lukather takes lead on, and he does an excellent job. Being such a ballad mush I found myself wishing I could date an Anna and have it end just so I could sing this one to try and patch things up. Whaddaya want, I was 18!! Then came the song that haunts me to this day: “Stop Loving You”, one of my all-time TOTO favorites, and also one that made its way onto several mixtapes, which is sad because it was only meant for that one special girl. No names here, let’s protect the innocent. Besides, she knows who she was. If you people don’t get the majesty that IS the late Jeff Porcaro (RIP) on drums, then listen to “Mushanga” and you’ll feel pretty dumb. The flamenco solo from Lukather is highly impressive, too.
And then…hold…what’s this? A rocker called “Stay Away” featuring the legendary Linda Ronstadt on backing vocals?? Are you kidding me?!? This day just gets better and better doesn’t it? Meat could barely keep from laughing as I stared wide-eyed at my ’88 Sundance’s radio in disbelief! Gods, I soaked it all up like a fucking sponge. “Straight For the Heart” is the song you hear when the hero of some cop movie goes on his late night walk through the streets of downtown Los Angeles replaying the case in his mind, and “Only the Children” is the tune you hear over the closing credits as that same hero walks off into the sunset with the girl, after rescuing her from the bad guys. Just some great stuff, man.
Things take a slow and brooding turn for “A Thousand Years” before Lukather grabs the mic again on “These Chains” which also has some cool, understated horns. And as far as album closers go, “Home of the Brave” may just be one of the greatest I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. It never fails to get my blood pumping and make me feel like I can take on the world. Paich takes lead on the first part of each verse before Williams comes storming in like a Panzer Tank Division and everyone just nails his parts to perfection. It’s nearly seven minutes but you wouldn’t even know it. And when Lukather takes off on that riff, that RIFF that leads the band out of the record I still get goosebumps. Soooooo good!!
I had a lot of great times with The Seventh One as a backdrop. Everything from first dates to moving to Philly, a trip to Belfast in ’94, and much more. And that’s why TOTO speaks to me and why this will always be my Classic Album. ~dc