odi et amo – Lido Shuffle by Boz Scaggs

If ever a musical term gives me the shivers, it is adult-oriented. Boz Scaggs was as adult-oriented as you could get. He’s a grizzled professional with a backing band of excellent session musicians. Indeed his band were so good they went their own way and called themselves Toto. 

His album Silk Degrees had hits like What Can I Say and Lowdown, both mushy numbers that bored the trousers off of me. They were “adult-oriented”. They were so stuck in their mid-Seventies era that if you now listen for a few bars you’ll wish for something fresh to blow away the stench. Which is how we got Punk in the first place.

Then there’s Lido Shuffle.


Look – the names of the Toto members have been snuck into the video title.

Enlisting in the army of reasons to hate this song is its shuffle beat. Rare are the shuffle songs that sound anything but twee. And big drum fills! And a keyboard arpeggio solo! Mee-de-ley mee-de-ley mee-de-ley mee-de-ley. So what could possibly be good about it?

Well the drummer is awesome. He’d better be, he’s the late drum god Jeff Porcaro. The bass player is tight and the line is simple and powerful. He’s a Toto boy too. By the way Toto don’t make the list. There’s no amo for Toto, only odi.

Lido Shuffle is well written, exciting and with a sing-along chorus: Lido – whoa-oh-a-ohoh. Boz sings in an indecipherable slur; always a good idea when there are doubts as to your ability with lyrics.

I write these essays to force into words something that is buried deep in feelings – why one likes music. Sometimes you make a discovery. For example, it took a page on Grace Jones to figure out that I love her music because of her radiance.

So what gives with Boz? Sure the rhythm section is great, but how come Toto isn’t on this list? They have the same rhythm section, but I’m not blessing the rains down in Africa. What is it in particular about this song that makes it break through? And there is the answer, deep in the core of my reptilian brain.

I like Lido Shuffle because it is what you get when you force the musicians of Toto to play straight driving rock music.

The Boz is in charge and those Toto boys are his bitches. They haven’t yet had a hit with Rosanna so their egos are still controllable. We’re not getting their virtuosity and pretension. Boz says no, no, no. They do what he wants, and what he wants is for those session players to play the song the way he wrote it. And that is what they needed to produce magic.

[Aside: Check out pre-fame Patrick Swayze is in this Toto clip for Rosanna. You have to search to find him.]


1 Response to “odi et amo – Lido Shuffle by Boz Scaggs”

  1. July 28, 2011 at 19:40

    When I was shopping for my first real hifi system in early 1984, the two records that all the dealers seemed to use for auditioning were Boz Scaggs and Grace Jones. I had a foolish aversion to Grace back then but came to appreciate her quite belatedly. Boz is still a bit of an effort – Lido is catchy, and I liked playing one of his ballads on the piano, but that was it.

    The Toto boys were doing the soundtrack to David Lynch’s Dune just after this time. What was it about “the rains down in Arrakis….” ?

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