Toto Holds The Line With Debut Album
Toto Album Cover
Welcome to ‘Behind The Cover’ where we take a closer look at the music and cover art of an album released in the past few decades. This feature is brought to you by Pure Music Manufacturing.
American band Toto released their self-titled debut album in 1978. The band was made up of several well-known session musicians who formed a group to take on the music world. On paper, the idea sounded pretty good and may have bordered on something of a supergroup in the making. However, critics disliked the whole idea. Rolling Stone magazine called the effort a failed attempt at becoming a band and panned the music on the disc. They called all four of the lead vocalists as not being more than just “passable” and called the songs, written by David Paich, as “excuses for back-to-back instrumental solos.”
However, another review that appeared in AllMusic pointed to the negative reaction from critics as being the result of them being “threatened by Toto’s ability to create outstanding songs in any genre.” This was an interesting take on the subject as the negative reactions from music critics did not have much of an impact as the album was very much liked by the listening public.
“Toto” generated three singles including “Hold The Line,” “Supply The Love” and “Georgy Porgy” with the trio hitting the Top 50 in the US. “Hold The Line” skipped up to the Top 10 where it sat for six weeks and peaked at #14 in the UK. The band earned a fan following quickly after the release of their debut and the album picked up a reputation based on the characteristic sound it had where soft pop and synth and hard rock were blended. Their follow-up disc took a harder rock approach and was followed by a more pop-oriented sound that Toto is probably best known for to date.
The Toto album cover art came from an interesting point of view. Artist Philip Garris created the album’s emblem after hearing a line in the song “Manuela Run” that stated, “You better watch that sword that’s hanging over you.” Garris is well-known for the many paintings he has contributed to Grateful Dead album covers. The sword in the song was a reference to the Sword of Damocles. As a piece of cover art, it became to symbolize the band’s powerful, hard-edge sound.
Because the band also demonstrated an ability to play many different types of music, the cover art sword is double-edged to show versatility. The iron ring part of the artwork represented a piece of work being constructed – such as the development of the album – and the ribbons also in the artwork were to signify the Year of the Child.
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