Japanese Eyes (Tarantura TCDTOTO – 1 – 1, 2)
Budokan, Tokyo , Japan – May 17, 1982
Disc 1: Announcement/SE, Opening, Girl Goodbye, Child’s Anthem, I’ll Supply The Love, Live For Today, A Million Miles Away, Georgy Porgy, Good For You, Africa, Keyboard Solo, Hydra, 99
Disc 2: Goodbye Eleanor, Guitar Solo, Gift With A Golden Gun, Make Believe, Rosanna, English Eyes, Member Introduction, Afraid Of Love, Lovers In The Night, Hold The Line, Runaway, Ending/Announcement
There are at least five of the ten dates during Toto’s 1982 Japan tour that exist on tape. This latest offering from Tarantura features the first of a total of three nights that would be played at Budokan and I am told that this is a new tape source. The second night from May 18 was filmed and about sixty minutes or so of this excellent pro shot footage has been in circulation for awhile and the complete soundboard was released years ago on the Midas Touch label as Runaway. The May 11 date from Osaka was released on silver disc from the Heartbreakers label as Lovers In The Night and was followed by Meet You All The Way on Zion a few years later but wrongly attributed to March 11. Finally a silver release of the May 17 show and the recorder managed to capture an excellent well balanced clear document that runs just slightly hot. The audience can be heard but the music is much louder in comparison and the crowd is really never intrusive. Even the annoying clapping that plagues many Japanese tapes is only audible in the background. Dynamic passages in the music where it may drop to just one or two instruments still come through very clear and the band sounds very powerful as if the taper was close to the stage.
Toto first toured Japan in 1980 but this return trip would mark the beginning of the most successful era in their career. Toto IV would go on to sell millions of records and earn the band five Grammy Awards with songs such as “Africa” and “Rosanna”. However, before the start of the world tour, bassist David Hungate, who had recently become a father, felt he could not participate in the immense tour and was replaced by Jeff and Steve Porcaro’s brother, Mike. Additional musicians were also featured on this tour with John Smith on saxophone and vocals and the last few tracks the band is joined by well known keyboardist and composer James Newton Howard, who was currently with Elton John’s band.
Seeing that the band consisted of top session players their performances were always nothing short of incredible, and though they had a very polished sound, the band could always maintain a certain level of improv in their show. “A Million Miles Away” tonight completely lacks the reference to Steely Dan’s “The Royal Scam” that is present on the following night. This is a great example of how these players could really feed off each other no matter what style of music they were doing. Although the set included a lot of pop material, the music still had a progressive hard edge with apparent jazz and classical influences. It’s a shame that a song like “Africa” stereo-typed a band that was much different and heavier than they were perceived.
The band comes in blazing with a few tracks from their debut LP before visiting a couple from the Turn Back album. “Georgy Porgy” has outstanding piano and sax solos at the end. There is a spot in “Hydra” where Luke’s guitar is strangely out of tune followed by him dropping out where it sounds as if he breaks a string and maybe changes guitars. “Hydra” very smoothly segues into “99”. The solo spots on this tour are less than typical for the time period. Steve Lukather’s guitar solo was not all shredding and was made up of melodic chord changes and also a nice but brief reference to “Dear Prudence”. The keyboard solo that follows “Africa” is based over a drum loop where they are toying with different types of bell sounds before switching to a very impressive classical piano workout. The intricate solo section of “Rosanna” is perfectly executed and the band has a nice loose jam at the end. As well as featuring songs from all four albums, the Japanese audiences were also treated to the unreleased “Runaway” for the encore during this tour.
Toto hasn’t seen a lot of silver releases these days and Tarantura did a really nice job with this title. The packaging is their classic gatefold glossy paper sleeve packed with photos from the era including pictures of Mr. Peach’s master tapes inside. Japanese Eyes is a great sounding document finally made available after 25 years.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)