Saturday, August 15, 2009

Toy Love - yeehah!

With a sufficiently large CD collection, it's easy to stumble across something that hasn't been aired in some time.

Such was the case with the Toy Love album, and it's a real treasure.

Toy Love was a New Zealand "punk/new wave" band from the late 1970s. Short-lived but positively revered, their music had been long out of print. When they were finally (lovingly) consigned to CD just four years ago, it was a double called Cuts, and assembles their various singles, B-sides, and the eponymous album on the first disk, followed by demos and unreleased stuff on the second.

A great collection of all their releases - bar a single track with the ostensible titled The Second To Last Song Toy Love Wrote With Ad Lib Lyrics, which was released on a B-FM album called Goats Milk Soap.

And yes, it does have greats like The Amputee Song (Bride Of Frankenstein's B-side), the glorious Pull Down The Shades and the poppy Don't Ask Me - which made a surprise appearance in the Top 20 in Wellington in 1980.

A really rollicking listen at times (especially the aforementioned Bride!), the music is energetic and surprisingly fresh after all this time.

There's a live clip of them on YouTube - from memory, it includes Shades, Frogs, and Fast Ostrich. There's also a brief clip of them doing Shades in an earlier incarnation, the Enemy. Knox looks decidedly punk in that clip (a friend of mine once went out with him around that time; she thought he was a bit too strange, but ten years on he had definitely mellowed well). But wait - there's more! I found an actual music video of the wonderful Squeeze - never seen that one before. I know there was also a promo video for the Bride single, but it doesn't seem to be around.

Of course, singer Chris Knox, the grandaddy of modern New Zealand music, has an illustrious body of later work, both solo and with Toy Love guitarist Alec Bathgate as Tall Dwarfs. When I was briefly living in Auckland in 1986, I went up the road to buy from him a copy of a comic he had put together, Jesus On A Stick, which featured contributions from a variety of musicians. A very friendly guy (and a great comic, it was). Knox's most famous solo track is Not Given Lightly, once voted the thirteenth best New Zealand song of all time; Tall Dwarfs' first three releases are assembled on Hello Cruel World - thoroughly recommended, particularly the tracks from the original ep Louis Likes His Daily Dip.

Sadly, as Derek told me last night, Knox suffered a stroke recently. There's a blog site that contains updates on his condition.

More discussion on 1970s New Zealand Music: Citizen Band's connection to Split Enz, and a strange collaboration between Dragon and Mark Williams.

The most comprehensive web site on New Zealand music of the 1970's is Sergent's New Zealand Music.

NZ Charts
comp tracks
Squeeze/Toy Love Song

on AK79 compiliation (earlier recordings than those released on the single and album)

Don't Ask Me
Don't Ask Me/Sheep
Toy Love
I Don't Mind/Swimming Pool/ Death Rehearsal/Bride Of Frankenstein/Toy Love Song/ Photographs Of Naked Ladies/ Bedroom/The Crunch/Ain't It Nice/Cold Meat/Don't Catch Fire/Green Walls/Pull Down The Shades/Frogs/Fast Ostrich
Bride Of Frankenstein
Bride Of Frankenstein/The Amputee Song/Good Old Joe

comp track
The Second To Last Song Toy Love Wrote With Ad Lib Lyrics

on Goats Milk Soap compilation



Flying Nun
First disc comprises all single and album tracks; second disc comprises demos, etc: Squeeze/Sheep/I Don't Mind/ Swimming Pool/Death Rehearsal/ Unscrewed Up/Toy Love Song/Photographs Of Naked Ladies/Lust/I'm Not Bored/1978/15/Cold Meat/ Wanna Die With You/Don't Catch Fire/Green Walls/Pull Down The Shades/Frogs/Fast Ostrich

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