* TOTO Reviews & Commentary

Dick Grove Music School
Jeff Porcaro states, "I did a clinic a couple or years ago at the Dick Grove School," Porcaro says in his groggy baritone. "The students brought CD of my stuff to play and ask me questions about. I knew what would happen; they'd ask about the 'Rosanna' beat, which is probably the most unoriginal thing I've ever done, yet I got all this credit for it. Stupid. So I brought along the CDs of the records I stole the beat from--"Fool In The Rain" from Led Zeppelin's In Through The Out Door, and Bernard Purdie's 'Home At Last' and 'Babylon Sisters' with Steely. Without saying anything, I put on the CD and played 'Babylon Sisters.' Half the class knew the song, but none of them knew who the drummer was.

This is a class of 18 to 33-year-olds. Then I played 'Home At Last,' which I copped all the shit for 'Rosanna' from. Once again, no one knew the drummer. I said, 'Guys, it's Bernard Purdie. Who in this room has heard of Steve Gadd?' All the hands went up. 'Aja?' All hands up. 'I'm sure you all know Steve won Performance Of The Year for that in Modern Drummer. Well. you're all fucked up! I just played you 'Home At Last' with Bernard Purdie, and that's on the same record. What do you do, listen to 'Aja' and then take the needle off? As musicians you should know everything I just played for you. Some of the best drum shit ever is on that record. Each track has subtleties."
Porcaro, "That's at a point when drum machine technology was just rearing its ugly head. There was a lot of talk about the future of quantizing and sequencing in real time. To a perfectionist, that was all really cool stuff. The title track was done to a Urei click. In fact it was all Urei except 'Hey Nineteen,' which is WENDEL.
" The title track, which Porcaro played on, is an epic bit of Mexican-inspired music, full of enigmatic lyrics and romantic female choruses. The Dan had perfected their recording approach by this time. "From noon till six we'd play the tune over and over and over again," says Porcaro, "nailing each part. We'd go to dinner and come back and start recording. They made everybody play like their life depended on it. But they weren't gonna keep anything anyone else played that night, no matter how tight it was. All they were going for was the drum track." (The final product was a combination of 46 edits.)

"We were recording tracks for Steely Dan's Gaucho album at A&R. It was Jeffrey and three other musicians. In those days, we would record tracks forty, fifty, sixty times until Donald [Fagen] felt he had a track that was steady enough. In those days ['79], we didn't use click tracks, and the kind of click track that was available, Jeffrey hated. We played the track for quite a long time that night, and at about 11:00 or so, Donald said it wasn't working for him. When that happened, it was usually the kiss of death; we'd never try the track again and the song would be lost. So at 11:00 he and Walter [Becker] felt they had exhausted that track and were going to call it a night. Jeffrey and I were upset about that, because it was definitely going to hit the can, and we loved the song. Donald said, 'Okay, you guys stay, and if you cut a track that you like, call us and we'll come back".

"We stayed there most of the night. I had a chart, and Jeffrey would play a take, and I would hear eight good bars - not that all the bars weren't good, but I tried to think like Donald. But I would mark those bars, and then the next four good bars. We did about seventy takes. We finally left at about 5:00 in the morning, and the next day I went to the studio with Roger Nichols and Jeff, and we literally edited this track bar by bar. I had all these markings on my chart...it was a fluke that I made a track that felt good. We called Donald, and they came over late in the afternoon and couldn't find anything wrong with it And as nonchalantly as he had left the night before, he said, 'There's another track."

"The style of music that I liked was compatible with Jeff. I never found myself in a room thinking, 'This isn't Jeffrey's thing,' although he would say that on a couple of occasions, mainly about shuffles. Having done a TV show, as he did when he was so young, and having to read charts for these various people - if you could put it out there, he could play it. I was never in the studio with Jeffrey where it didn't work. Party of the style of records I make was Jeffrey. Now I've got to figure out something else.
"When we met in '73 and started making the many records that we made - I've made more with Jeff that weren't Steely Dan than that were - I never never went to the studio feeling anything but, "I know I'll get this track.' It's funny, the only record I didn't work with him on in in years was the one I recently finished with Laura Nyro - and that was because Jeffrey told me I should hire Purdie.


Greg Ladanyi was to become involved in plenty of other enduring recordings. He had moved into the co-production chair with Jackson for the singer's Hold On album in 1980, and produced records for Phoebe Snow, Warren Zevon, the Church, Fleetwood Mac and Jeff Healy over the next few years. But he was still in high demand as an engineer, and when another group of ex-studio musicians called Toto went back into the studio for their Toto IV album in 1982, they called on Ladanyi to mix the album, which contained hits including 'Rosanna' and 'Africa', and would win seven of nine Grammy nominations that year.

"Toto IV was by far the most extensive mixdown I had been involved with," says Ladanyi. "The band had three 24-track machines on some songs — up to 72 tracks. I thought 'My God, how do I make all this fit in two speakers?' The record was mixed at the Sound Factory, which was a 32-input fader/24-monitor API console — no automation and pairs of hands moving faders — Steve Lukather, David Paich, Steve Porcaro, Jeff Porcaro, and me. This was the real deal. 'Rosanna' and 'Africa' took three days each to complete the final mixdowns. These songs were mixed in sections and then cut together on the two-track. I balanced the track with EQ, compressors and effects, then we all made the fader rides together.

"I went on to record six more records with Toto. Kingdom Of Desire was the last one. We made that record at Skywalker Ranch and did it in about three or four weeks. The thing about that record was how dynamic the playing was in the era before CDs and how much fun it was to capture that. When it came time to mix, I was asked to compress it pretty heavily — that was the way you made it work for radio, or so a lot of people thought. I had to compress it more than I thought was reasonable given how dynamic the record was. Sure, compression makes it louder and more in-your-face, but you just don't experience the dimension that the band played with. Too many great records lost that element when they had to undergo compression for radio's sake."

When Al Schmitt recorded the lighter-friendly standard Toto IV, he had a feeling it was destined to become a classic . Those songs – ‘Africa,’ ‘Rosanna’ – they just sounded like hits,” he says.Recording in Studio B at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, Schmitt set up an AKG 452 with a 10-dB pad on top of the snare, close to the skin and about an inch from the edge of the drum. Beneath, he placed a Shure 57 with the phase turned 180 degrees on the console, placed near the snares. “I’ll sneak that in during the mix to catch a bit more of the ‘crack’ of the snare,” he says. “Flipping the phase avoids cancellation problems with mics that close together.”

Jeff Porcaro’s kick drum had an outer skin with a hole, and Schmitt placed an AKG D-12E aimed into that about an inch or two back from the skin. “I’m looking for the punch from the bottom end, but not the pedal sound,” he explains, noting that he’ll help that along with a few dB at 60 Hz while tracking. (Otherwise, no EQ at all.)

Rack and floor toms get an AKG 414 apiece, each placed close in – about an inch and a half from the rack toms and two to three inches from the floor tom -- set at cardioid and with a 10-dB pad. The high-hat had a 452 placed six to eight inches away and slightly above.

Overheads are a pair of AKG 452s set in a modified (i.e., “almost”) X-Y configuration positioned on booms directly over the drummer’s head and forward about a foot. “The ideal here is to get a great balance between the cymbals and toms just from these two microphones,” says Schmitt. In addition, an AKG C-24 (the stereo version of the C-12) was placed about 20 feet in front of the kit at a height of seven feet. “That’s where a lot of the ambience comes from,” he says.

That should do it, says Schmitt. “Nine times out of ten, you don’t need EQ. These days I like to add some of the ‘wood’ room from the TC Electronic M-60000, but back then I would have applied a little bit of the studio’s chamber or an EMT plate. That’s it. You let the microphones speak for themselves.”

Hydra Review Billboard Magazine
The following to the quintet's top-selling debut LP continues its professional yet energetic rock sound. Though still capable of riveting hooks, Toto stretches out on this release by adding more jazz elements. Steve Lukather's guitar work throughout is breathtaking. This group of studio musicians shows growth as writers as the compositions show lyrical depth. "99" is notable for it continues the band's expansion into r&b, which "Georgy Porgy" from the last LP established. "All Us Boys" will likely take its place in the Toto catalog as a classic rocker. Best cuts: "All Us Boys", "Hydra", "99", "Mama", "White Sister. Dealers: the fans have been waiting for this one.

Isolation Review Billboard Magazine
Toto follows up the Grammy-winning "Toto IV" with another superbly recorded set that reflects, on balance, a somewhat harder edge. Part of that may be due to the introduction of a new lead singer, Fergie Fredericksen [sic], who also co-wrote four of the songs. The first single from the album, the driving rhythm piece "Stranger In Town" is already approaching the top 40; the group's previous album yielded four top 40 hits, inclyding three that cracked the top 10.

Chuck Rainey's site on the making of the Aja DVD
"...another unsung hero associated with Steely Dan recorded success was Jeff Porcaro. Jeff was an 'A team' studio call at the time and was also an ex member of the original Steely Dan band. During that time Jeff was also a member of Toto. He obviously had a very close relationship with Walter and Donald because he was always either the drummer on any demos that were presented on material to be recorded by 'Dan' or for sure the first drummer that I worked with on all 'Dan' songs in the studio. For reasons not known to me, he was not aired on the 'Dan' albums that I am associated with, but sure had an impact on the feel of what was recorded by the other drummer(s)."

JEFF STORIESIf you have a Jeff story, please email at: scampydrums@hotmail and put “Jeff Story” in the subject bar)

From a member of Jeff user group I headed years ago:
“When Carlos died I wrote a piece about him for Mike Landau’s website, in it I mentioned that just to hag on the tour bus and sit practicing on a pad while listening to Latin music was a thrill. One time Jeff and TOTO came to play at MI, Rock It cargo was doing Jeff's drums at the time so they showed up early and I set the kit up. Something Jeff had mentioned in a later MD was about different snare drums effects he would do, it just so happened that the particular Radio King that was brought to MI was the on one he had used for that session....

He had wadded up newspaper and stuffed it inside the drum, I remember like yesterday taking the drumhead off and finding all that paper inside, there were a few other guys hanging with me while I was doing this, they all had this look like "what the f***'. Jeff was very down to earth very helpful to others. Another time while again still at MI the school held a picnic, Jeff showed up with his brother Mike and hung out with everyone, that was his thing just to hang with others. On the Fahrenheit tour he had just gotten into Dynacord electric drums and was using them for this tour, the band did a 2 night stand at the Universal Amphitheatre in LA. I went down for sound check and to me that was so cool watching him sitting side stage jamming and messing with the new pads.”

In Memorium
I was at Jeff's funeral and found this moving. It is a written account of the service and much more.