Hold The Line says Charlie Griffiths - I’m Running Out Of Time in the Kingdom Of Desire. Yes, this month it’s Toto axeman, Steve Lukather.
Toto formed in 1977 and consisted of a group of top LA session musicians who decided to form their own band. They’ve gone through many line-up changes and tragic losses over the years, but aside from a couple of years when Toto officially disbanded, guitarist Steve Lukather has been a consistent member throughout.
Toto hit the ground running with their debut album featuring the classics Hold The Line and Georgy Porgy, but it was 1982’s Toto IV that catapulted them to legendary status with the songs Rosanna, Africa and Won’t Hold You Back, all huge singles. 1982 was a good year for Steve Lukather as he also played guitar on the world’s best-selling album, Thriller by Michael Jackson. For any other outfit the next move might be seen as unusual, but for a group with the level of musicianship Toto could boast, writing the soundtrack to David Lynch’s sci-fi epic Dune was perhaps a logical step. In 2015 Toto released their 14th album, Toto XIV and they continue to tour the world today.
Toto have an incredibly diverse output with songs ranging from funk, blues, soulful ballads and fusion. The following is a selection riffs inspired by Toto’s more hard rock output. Our first riff is inspired by tracks on 1992’s Kingdom Of Desire and is based on the F#
(1-b3-4-b5-5-b7) Blues scale at the 2nd fret. This is a great key for heavy rock riffs as we can use b7 the open E to play a below the root note. You better hold the line for our next riff, which harks back to the band’s 1978 debut; it’s in 12/8 time signature and uses a mixture of power chords and major inversions to create tension and release. Riff number three takes us to 2006’s release, Falling In Between. This heavy syncopated feel is created by a repeating pattern of five eighth notes that moves against a 4/4 backbeat. Playing along to the track will take some practice because the snare backbeat doesn’t always land where you might expect. Tip: focus on the bass guitar to help you stay locked in.
Riff four’s repeating lick is a good test of rhythmic phrasing as it moves between 16ths and 16th-note triplets, or in other words; four-notes-per click and six-notes-per-click.
We’re ‘running out of time’ with our final E Dorian riff, which uses position shifts, slides and pedal notes to cover a lot of the fretboard.
Our full solo is in D Minor and uses typical Luke licks and tricks: whammy bar scoops, string bends and slides; smooth legatos lines and chromatic passing notes. Break the solo down into one-bar sections and practise them in isolation before linking them all together.
1982 was a good year for luke, as he played on The world’s Best-selling album: Thriller, by michael jackson
NEXT MONTH Charlie dissects the playing of Ozzy’s amazing guitarist, Randy Rhoads
Steve Lukather: Toto’s guitarist for an amazing four decades