Sheep Farming In Barnet
Album Review

New-age Hippy 

Toyah Willcox is a classic example of a new-age hippy. An all purpose self improving dilettante, one minute acting, the next singing and the next reputedly picking up vast sums for services rendered to the advertising world. 

Her one or two oddball singles and EP of the same name as this album are all included here on a package initially released abroad to meet the excessive demand (!). Well maybe the Europeans didn't realise that there aint no sheep in Barnet (I can vouch for that, I only live up the road) or perhaps they retain a fond fetish for that phenomenon affectionally known as acid rock. 

For it is into these realms that Toyah and her not inconsiderable cohorts take us, the narrow lipped lady herself coming on like some post punk Grace Slick. Titles like 'Neon Womb' obviously have an ecological element which goes with the excellent sleeve photo of the early warning "golf balls" on the Yorkshire Moors and the likes of Pete Bush and Joel Bogen on keys and guitar are adapt enough to flesh out the ideas with some ambitious instrumental arrangements

Toyah's voice is certainly better on record than it is live, but that doesn't mean there isn't a fair bit of frenzy obliterating the lyrics. Maybe mood is more important than words, hence 'Elusive Stranger' where the sense of mystery is enhanced by sea breeze effects conjuring up memories of 'The Prisoner' TV series. 

While the first single is sub-titled 'Heaven', the reverse is 'Hell', although the music isn't necessarily anymore, er, fiery. 'Danced' is pretty enough to make daytime radio, whilst 'Last Goodbye' befits one with aspiration towards the (melo)dramatic world. 

Elsewhere things get sorta spacey, but if there's a message of concept I'm afraid it eluded me. Still, there are plenty of ideas here and even if few of them appear to be fully realised, Toyah's career still has extensive voyeur potential. *** 

Mike Nicholls
NME, 1980