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Toto - 1979 Hydra

ALBUM: Hydra
SERIAL: FC 36229
YEAR: 1979
CD REISSUE: 1990, CBS, CK 36229 * 2008, CBS, 88697251262-2, (reissue, remastered)


LINEUP: Bobby Kimball - vocals * Steve Lukather - guitars, vocals * David Paich - keyboards, vocals * Steve Porcaro - keyboards * David Hungate - bass * Jeff Porcaro - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hydra * 02 St George And The Dragon * 03 99 * 04 Lorraine * 05 All Us Boys * 06 Mama * 07 White Sister * 08 A Secret Love


Having spent all of 1978 gushing over the the first Toto album, I was seriously looking forward to their second album 'Hydra' with bated breath. Somehow I knew the band were going to deliver something different, if the material on the debut was anything to go by. Having secured a reputation as a band 'on the rise', and on the back of a successful raid on the charts with their hit single 'Hold The Line', the all important sophomore release would give everyone an idea as to how the band would fare. I don't think the band members were really worried about reputations, all were seasoned pro's in the L.A session scene, and know how and when to deliver the goods. This album has been described as their most 'progressive'. In comparison to the rest of their discography I suppose this is a true statement. But if 'progressive' is meant to be a dig at the British art rock movement from a few years previous, then I feel it's quite wide of the mark. With eight songs onboard 'Hydra', most of the tunes are still well aligned to AOR. We'll break these down shortly.

The Songs
The opening strains of 'Hydra' is dark, atmospheric and powerful. It's nothing like the stuff on the debut, and shows the band in a new light. Some interesting passages are contained within, and it's this song which has probably led to all the 'progressive' comparisons.. but this would be the only track to do so. Second up is the commercial 'St George And The Dragon', the bouncy and happy piano work a contrast to the song theme and title. of course we all know the hit ballad '99', a nice tune which has retained its qualities over the years, despite the indifference by the band as to its popularity. 'Lorraine' also starts off in restrained ballad mode with its delicate piano work, but opens out to be a bit of rabble-rouser by chorus time. Side two commences with 'All Us Boys' - which has a kick-ass rock n roll vibe to it, not unlike many of the rock/power-pop outfits doing the rounds at the time. Heading back to the sound of their debut album is 'Mama' -which could be 'Takin' It Back' Part II. Nice nonetheless. A fan favourite for many is the classic track 'White Sister'. For me, it's one of the picks of their extensive discography - the searing and extended guitar solo by Lukather is up there as one of the best ever! Truly a great song. Warm synths precede 'A Secret Love', which turns into a dreamy ballad with soundtrack aspirations.. if I ever I heard.

In Summary
If anything, what this album does confirm is the band now starting to create an identity and sound that is their own - and one which would be ripped off by countless bands shortly after and forever more. All of the band's discography from 1978 through to about the 'Kingdom Of Desire' era is worth getting, beyond that.. well you take your chances. I'm pretty certain that I'm preaching to the converted with this article.. most if not all of you will have this album in your collection.. well done.

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#1 | Eric on January 13 2008 04:57:32
In the fall of 1979, this album was huge with '99' leading the charge on AOR radio. On a personal level this record represents wet/ brown leaves turning to snow at a time where I had just come into my own as an 18 year old. 'Can you tell me where I might find the Hydra.....'
#2 | reyno-roxx on July 01 2008 16:34:18
Still the best Toto album in my opinion. They came close later on, but this just represents a certain period in music where Toto truly reigned supreme in AOR circles. Forget all about that 'Africa' pop stuff.....
#3 | DIGITAL on October 19 2008 21:18:41
terrific album with a atmosphere to it that i like a lot one of toto's best
#4 | dangerzone on October 22 2008 11:24:02
'All us boys like to fight and kick..CARRY A STICK!!!'Shock
#5 | trillion1999 on October 12 2011 17:25:04
I love 99 and very much like THX 1138 as love
#6 | rkbluez on December 21 2011 01:56:31
Agree with's their best album IMO also...a classic!
#7 | super80boy on August 24 2014 21:27:32
The lead off title song definitely sports some progressive moves that remind of Saga's Worlds Apart album. Really liked how they changed things up on Side Two with the fiery 'All Us Boys' and 'White Sister'. The original vinyl pressing has a nice gatefold edition.
#8 | code4 on August 18 2015 14:21:43
Mama, White Sister and Secret Love (ok and maybe 99, which is musically stellar past the often-derided as nonsensical sounding lyrics) are the songs i can listen to on Hydra. The rest of it i don't merely not like but absolutely detest. I own all the first 7 or 8 Toto releases and this is the only one i want to throw out everytime i see it. It is nice to see i'm in the minority though and that many people appreciate/like Hydra. Each to their own

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