Toy Dolls – “Twenty Two Tunes Live From Tokyo” REISSUE (Westworld Recordings)
I’ve seen these guys at Hellfest twice and they’re awesome, drawing massive crowds that always spill well out of the Warzone area. Going back to the days of late 70s English punk, Toy Dolls immediately separated themselves from their more angrier peers by taking on the working class piss take humor already present in bawdy pub comedy, drinking songs and football terrace chanting. Classified as ‘punk pathetique’ along with bands like Peter and the Test Tube Babies and Splodgenessabounds it was anything but that given the charting successes of all these bands, whose boppy sense of humor and having fun drew thousands of fans wanting energized music without the risk of getting their heads kicked in. Best known for their 1984 hit, ‘Nellie The Elephant’, Toy Dolls have been through 14 different drummers and 12 different bassists (all with nicknames!) while having a mainstay in lead vocalist guitarist Michael ‘Olga’ Algar, who’s kept the band going in between being a producer and writing soundtracks for films and adverts! This 22 track live album recorded in Tokyo back in 1989 sez it all and what is most impressive is how true it sounds to the same performance I witnessed just a few backs, so Olga has indeed done his band proud right from those wacky outfits (including those nerdy sunglasses) to their tongue in cheek onstage ‘choreography’. Like I said, its a piss take and its reflected in the songs ranging from originals like ‘She Goes To Finos’ (the B side to their debut single) through to the very tight musicianship on their blinding cover of Aram Khachaturian’s ‘Sabre Dance’ – and one of the reasons why Olga is regarded as guitarist. Of course, it all comes together on ‘Nellie The Elephant’, the ultimate class room singalong that only Toy Dolls could have popularized such that Tescos would use it yonks later in their TV advert. Go have some fun with this one.