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Album Review

If Toto's musical advantage was that, since its members continued to play on many of the successful records made in L.A., its own music was popular almost by definition, its disadvantage was that it made little attempt to seek an individual musical signature — a particular style, say, or a distinctive singer (Bobby Kimball was not it) who could make its records immediately identifiable. "Hold the Line" had been a big hit, but who did it? Boston? Foreigner? As a result, Toto was less well positioned than most to come off a big debut album with the follow-up, and Hydra was unusually dependent on its leadoff single, "99." Maybe it was a tribute to the female lead on the old Get Smart TV show, but many listeners didn't get a song with a chorus that went, "Oh, 99, I love you," and the single stalled in the bottom half of the Top 40. The album went gold on momentum, but the songs, however well-played, simply were not distinctive enough to consolidate the success Toto had achieved with its debut album.

Customer Reviews

Breakthrough Music

While not every Toto album/CD was a commercial success, the musicality of this largely session-trained group is unmatched in the rock genre. Hydra is one the most eclectic arrangement of songs put out at that time and, even today, the energy and feeling expressed in songs like 99, All Us Boys and White Sister are compelling to listen to. If you are a musician, Toto provides some of the most interesting and complex rock arrangements, vocal harmonies and depth of musicianship of any band I've heard in the last 30 years. If you are not a musician, you'll just dig the wide range of musical styles Toto has become legendary for. Anyone who thinks that Boston or Foreigner in any way resemble the music Toto has produced should probably find a job selling cocktail umbrellas or jelly bean dispensers...... they clearly don't understand what professional musicians sound like.

Bobby Kimball, Boston, Foreigner???

First off, this has always been my favorite Toto album. As far as the iTunes review, I doubt this guy has ever listened to either Toto, Boston or Foreigner. I was a teenager during the '70s and those were three of my favorite bands. If the reviewer cannot tell the difference between those groups, I would suggest he go into another line of work. Bobby Kimball not distinctive enough? He contributed greatly to the early Toto 'sound', whether it was as a lead vocalist or backing vocals. Not to give the iTunes reviewer too much grief, but if someone were to base their choice of getting this album on his review, they would think this was just a boilerplate '70s rock album; and it's far from that. If you even remotely like Toto, get this album. It's one of their best.


When it was their turn to debut their own songs, these veteran sidemen lived up to their reputations with the first album, thus making Joe Porcaro a very proud papa. But for many, (this reviewer, too), the follow-up of "Hydra" was what dropped everyone's jaw. Indeed, this album set the bar for what many of the West Coast producers went looking for and helped to define the famous "LA Sound." Don't believe me..? Just look at the body of work these guys were hired for AFTER this album came out. One need look no further than say Quincy Jones or Michael Jackson to verify the amount of influence these guys commanded. Need state-of-the art Baroque synth done right the first time? Call Marty Paich. Want just the right amount of fire and plenty of grease tastefully executed for your guitar solo? Call Lukather! Want to print the perfect groove with a creative edge second to none for your drum tracks...get Jeff him whatever he wants! ...and so on it went. If the iTunes Reviewer knew anything about the Pop R&B music of that time, he would surely take back the line about comparisons to Boston or Foreigner...those guys should be so lucky!


Formed: 1977 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The original members of Toto were L.A.-based session men who had played with everyone from George Benson to Boz Scaggs and wanted to create something they could call their own. They scored a hit straight out of the gate with the album rock hit "Hold the Line" from their 1978 debut. Their biggest success, however, came in the early '80s with a pair of smash hits, "Rosanna" and "Africa," plus the breakout, six-Grammy success of the Toto IV album. The band endured some major personnel shake-ups over...
Full Bio
Hydra, Toto
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