TOYAH: MAYHEM 
Cherry Red 

This weird one is coming out on Cherry Red any day and has deserved a release on CD having long been a collector’s item, originally issued by Safari in the mid-1985 but I must admit that I missed it. It’s a weird mixture cobbled together. ‘Clapham Junction’ is certainly daftly enjoyable, taking a lightly euphoric spin on her earlier, darker style and it’s a sumptuous opener. Unfortunately ‘Change Of Scenery’ is high-falutin’ garbage. (‘I live in London town, and I like to get around’? Please!) From Barbara Dickson to an agitated Bonnie Tyler in mere minutes, she crawls through a fluffy ‘Problem Child’ which isn’t a Damned cover. Equally grand in its slick nonsense is ‘You’re My Hero’ all mock-dramatics and wibbly drivel. Given that this gets an airing they should have dug up an old live tape of the days when they apparently covered ‘Freebird’ – I bet that would be hilarious. 

‘Cotton Vest’ is older, so these must be the demos. This is flat post-punk doldrums, with far more life than the above. ‘Gaoler’ finds an eager, roaring Toyah, with twitchy guitar, and a rockier feel. ‘Paradise Child’ is an early song with a big commercial hook, which seems odd, timewise. Toyah blazes through this which is a good indication as why labels were prepared to pounce. ‘Israel’ is slower, with farcical lyrics and delivery, then we tumble into a simple, charming ‘Christmas Carol’ which has nothing Yuleish about it, just chomping keyboards, skinny guitar and odd sounds gliding beneath the woozy vocals. 

'The Merchant And The Nubile’ is playfully epic, with ponderous drum tones, and a measured mood which Toyah controls in a masterful, swishing fashion. It gurgles and throbs superbly, leading into a cool demo of ‘Danced’ which starts fresh and innocent and then bounces off into the distance with cute, curly keyboards everywhere and a magnificent vocal performance. 

‘I Believe In Father Christmas’? Yes, that thing, done with a simple gloss, passionately. ‘Guilty’ is a bit ropey, sounding like a second-rate ‘Run Wild’, ‘Three Sided Face’ has an angular frothy poise, sidling along sternly, but ‘Island Race’ is quite ghastly, and that’s the point about cobbled together compilations, where the good and bad mix together. Overall the quality shines through and keeps the rubbish is respectful shadows. 
 

www.mickmercer.com
November 2005