TOYAH 
Warrior Rock (Toyah On Tour) 
Reviewed By Richard Evans 

I have to say first of all that if you're looking for an unbiased review of this album then you'll need to look elsewhere.  

You see this is a live double album recorded at London's infamous Hammersmith Odeon in 1982 and I was actually there. At the time it was, without any shadow of a doubt , the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me and if I'm honest it's still up there with the best of them. It wasn't my very first gig although it was certainly one of the first, but it was my first Toyah gig and in 1982 Toyah was at the very heart of my life... obsession is an ugly word but in retrospect having 400 or so Toyah press cuttings and pictures on my bedroom wall back then speaks volumes! 

I can remember the thrill of buying this album when it was first released... the very weight of the double vinyl and the new ink smell of the gatefold sleeve, and then the perilous journey home - my heart in my mouth in case I dropped it, scratched the vinyl, bent the corners, left fingerprints on the cover... then getting home and putting the vinyl on the turntable, a rumble a couple of crackles and this... 

The album opens with the noise of the crowd chanting for Toyah and then simply exploding as she comes on stage in the wake of strange pulses, sounds and drum rolls... the euphoric rush as 'Good Morning Universe' kicks in still makes the hairs on my neck rise twenty-three years later and I'm instantly drawn into Toyah's tribal world of colour and drama and excitement... 

Immediately the strength and talent of the live band is apparent, notably the contribution of Simon Phillips on drums who puts on a fantastic show, underpinning every second with his precision drumming, and Toyah herself is in great voice - her voice soaring - and evidently enjoying every moment of the night. This is the sound of a band coming together as one and to this day 'Warrior Rock' remains one of my favourite live albums ever.  

The title track 'Warrior Rock' is up next, originally a b-side on the 'Brave New World' single, the song is a true call to arms and has been adopted as a clarion call by the Toyah faithful and they welcome it here with open arms and the hysteria mounts as Toyah goes into one of her very greatest tracks 'Danced', a true crowd pleaser. The mood softens and mellows as Toyah romps through Anthem's 'Jungles Of Jupiter', the obligatory 'It's A Mystery' and The Changeling's 'Castaways' before leading into one of Toyah most overlooked and sublime songs 'Angel & Me' which starts off quiet and fragile and explodes into one of the albums finest moments. 

Exhausted after this frenzy we have 'Brave New World' which slows the pace back down and has never sounded more plaintive, the band giving his live version fresh verve and aspect as they add swoops and twirls of their own that showcase the power of this often forgotten single. I've never really been a fan of 'The Packt' which comes next but Anthem's 'We Are' is a jubilant build-up for the inevitable 'I Want To Be Free' which, complete with audience singalong, brings the excitement to dangerous levels before moving into 'Dawn Chorus' which is another tribal audience singalong number. 

Penultimate song 'War Boys' allows Simon Phillips to step into the spotlight opening with an awe-inspiring drum solo which by taking the tribal elements of the song by the scruff of the neck and puts it on a new level and makes this live version an album highlight.  

As any Toyah fan knows, a Toyah show has to close with 'Ieya' (it's the law!) and 'Warrior Rock' is no exception, again the band throw in new details and styling and turn an already powerful song into a vast epic and this recording is possibly the best version of the many that are available. 

As the album finishes I actually feel drained by the experience, not as draining as actually being there I admit, but this is a record that immediately and effortlessly transports me back to my early teens when nothing was more important than music and no-one in music was more important than Toyah and that's a great feeling...  

Briefly I feel like I touched the pure power of music again, and it's exactly those feelings that made me start RememberTheEighties.com in the first place... Toyah, here's to you, with thanks!

www.remembertheeighties.com
March 2005