Today’s Morning Groove came to me while I was listening to a cover version of the song. About eight years ago, Lorenzo “Zo!” Ferguson and Phonte “Tigallo” Coleman joined together and produced an EP called Zo! And Tigallo Love The ’80s. The set contained their versions of pop hits from the 80s done by Toto (“Africa”), Joe Jackson (“Steppin’ Out), Level 42 (“Something About You”), A-ha (“Take On Me”), and The Human League (“Human”). The one R&B cover they did was of the Rude Boys song “Written All Over Your Face.” While the others are well done, it’s the Toto cover that I always go back to. And it’s Toto’s “Africa” that is today’s Morning Groove.
Toto was formed by David Paich and Jeff Porcaro, two session musicians who had been working behind Boz Scaggs on his Silk Degrees album. Not long after recruiting Bobby Kimball, Jeff’s brother Steve Porcaro, David Hungate and Steve Lukather to round out the band, they were signed to Columbia Records where their debut album featured “Hold The Line” and “Georgy Porgy” (with Cheryl Lynn on the backing vocals). With the release of Toto IV in 1982, the group achieved a multiplatinum album, and seven Grammy awards, winning Record Of The Year (for “Rosanna”), and Album Of The Year. But it was “Africa” that was the biggest hit from the album.
Fast forward to 2008, where Ferguson and Coleman decide to do their version of “Africa.” I would never say it is better than the original, but in its own way, it’s a very good version of the song. The EP is so beloved by some that people ask the duo if they are making a second album of 80s covers or even one for the 90s. Both have declined; and since both are members of The Foreign Exchange, they would much rather perform new music than be known as a “cover band.” In fact, Zo! has just released an album of new music entitled Skybreak, while The Foreign Exchange released Tales Of Milk & Honey to critical acclaim last year.
Here is the Zo! & Tigallo version (by the way, gotta love how they went back and got those Jheri curl wigs):
And in this trailer for the making of Skybreak, Ferguson and Coleman talk about the EP and why they won’t make another one (contains NSFW language):
Enjoy the Morning Groove for today, and as always, thanks for listening and reading.