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Toyah Music 40: The Blue Meaning (1980)

February 4th, 2019

toyah40aneToyah’s debut studio album, The Blue Meaning, was released in June 1980. There has always been a degree of confusion regarding this as Sheep Farming In Barnet was, obviously, released first but that album is a compilation. Not that these details matter as both albums are incredible, accomplished collections of recordings.

The Blue Meaning was recorded during April 1980 at Parkgate Studios in Battle, East Sussex and mixed at Marquee Studios, London: The band line-up was Toyah Willcox – Verbals & Unusual Sounds, Joel Bogen – Guitar, Pete Bush – Keyboards, Trumpet, Charlie Francis – Bass Guitar, Steve Bray – Drums. All songs were written by the Toyah band, and the album was produced by Steve James and Toyah. James also engineered and mixed the album with Perry Morgan as Assistant Engineer.

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The album was released while the band travelled the UK on the Ieya Tour. Promotion for The Blue Meaning was “multi-media”, an idea that was a fairly new concept in 1980 but something Toyah was interested in and had mentioned previously in interviews.

Aside from the month-long UK tour there were television appearances by Toyah and the band – mostly regional – including Granada Reports in the North West, and Straight Talk in the Midlands. Press ads ran in most of the major music press and Toyah was interviewed by NME, Sounds, Zig Zag, Record Mirror, Time Out, Fab and Smash Hits. Some of these also reviewed the album.

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An innovative and interesting aspect of the promotion for The Blue Meaning was a series of in-store appearances at various Woolworth stores, with Toyah meeting fans and signing the album and single(s).

The Blue Meaning was first released on CD in 1990 by the Great Expectations label, along with a cassette and coloured vinyl. There was also a 2CD set in 2002 by Safari Records (with bonus songs and new sleeve notes) which saw the album coupled with Sheep Farming In Barnet.

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The Blue Meaning peaked at number 40 on the UK Album chart upon its release and in retrospect is viewed as a crucial part of Toyah’s mighty 40-year discography. A pop-punk-gothy mix of mayhem, magic and magnificent music. A classic!

• See further info on The Blue Meaning at Toyah’s Official Instagram and the album’s Wikipedia page.

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