A blog about my favourite movies, music, and TV.

11 January 2009

Toyah - Minx

Toyah is best known in the UK for her string of early 80’s hits; most notably It’s A Mystery – a post punk/pop kitsch classic that has become her signature tune. Other hits included I Want To Be Free and Thunder In The Mountains – all Top 5 hits in 1981. Moving forward 4 years, and Toyah had a new label – Portrait/CBS, and had undergone a synth-pop makeover!

The end result was the album Minx, produced by Christopher Neil, best known for his work with Sheena Easton. Minx is one of my all time favourite records; it’s patchy, and horribly dated in the best possible way. My personal favourites are the amazingly over the top opening track – Soldier of Fortune (Terrorist of Love)l; check out some of the lyrics:


“In my dreams there's a sleeping hunger
The instincts of a hunter
We raise our fists as one to the power of the gun!

BRIDGE


Are you sinners or saints (Terrorist)
Dripping hate (Of) – [I swear it sounds like ‘whore’]
Are you sinners or saints (Love)

Do you really know?

CHORUS

Soldiers of fortune seal your fate
The tears of ages still cascade
Soldier of fortune's burning flame
To let these lovers dance again!”

These are the kind of lyrics that Toyah fans have known and loved for years, but somehow when they are paired with heavy synth-pop/rock production and those backing vocalists they come across as pure camp rather than cool and edgy! I’m sure those backing vocalists are the same ones from Sheena Easton’s sessions a few years before.

The next song on the album is the amazing Don’t Fall In Love (I Said), the albums only ‘hit’ single, which deserved an awful lot better than the lowly no.23 that it managed. It’s just a catchy pop song with lots of synths and a wonderful video. Toyah’s image was so great at this time, that rubber hooker dress and spikey ‘Neighbours’ hair-do was ahead of its time! The follow-up single Soul Passing Through Soul is up next, not a typical Toyah song in my opinion, very MOR pop, but pretty nice with good strong vocals. Speaking of which, the next track Sympathy, sees Toyah really testing her chops, and she pulls it off in this quite heartbreaking dramatic ballad, I bet it would’ve been great live! Toyah was never known previously for her great singing, so this album really shows a lot of progress in that department, as well as a whole host of new tunes.

Next up is I’ll Serve You Well, which is pretty fab , pretty weird, and very Toyah! Check the Japanese lyrics!

“Watashini Makasete
Watashini Makasete
I'll serve you well, be your western girl
You must do as you please
Pass judgement, I kneel before you
Your pleasure, my punishment
I'll serve you well, I'm only here to please
Dressed to kill, I'll serve you well”

Things then go a bit downhill with Over 21, what can I say about this track? It’s atrocious, far too many backing singers all but drown out poor old Toyah, and the whole early 80’s American pop sound was already dated, it sounds like something you’d expect to find on a Sheena Easton b-side in 1980! A real dud!

I don’t even remember All In A Rage, the next song on the album.

Space Between The Sounds has some wonderfully ludicrous lyrics, and is a bit more early Toyah than some of the other tracks:

“The sounds are asleep
Motionless waters on a cobbled street
Entwined like the double helix
The silence speaks
Shady faded city lights
Dark, dark tinted nights
Alone in an orgy of peace
The silence speaks
I’m the space between the sounds”

If you ever wondered what Toyah would sound like singing Alice Cooper’s Schools Out, then wonder no more! The results aren’t too bad, but pretty surplus to requirements. The final single is up next, and I really like this one, another really poppy number – World In Action. There’s an extended version of all the singles included on this special re-issue, but World In Action has a remix! I believe this is Toyah’s first ever remix!

I don’t rate the final two tracks particularly highly, America For Beginners is quite political, but pretty uninspiring, likewise Vigilante isn’t a memorable track at all, nor a particularly fitting end to what is a pretty fun album overall. The original album ends at this point, but thanks to the brilliant Cherry Red Records we not only have the original album remastered, but all the b-sides and mixes! Of particular note is Kiss The Devil, which was a b-side to Don’t Fall In Love, its pretty similar, and fun!

All in all, Toyah’s foray into becoming a pop diva is still a lot of fun all these years later. Quality singles, and some memorable album tracks make the filler pale into insignificance. This stunning re-issue not only comes with extensive liner notes, lots of pictures, and even an introduction from Toyah herself!

Nothing beats Solider of Fortune (Terrorist of Love) though, best Toyah song ever in my opinion. And who else would wear a painted wicker birdcage on their album cover?

World in Action

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=qO3dYXrX4BA

Don’t Fall In Love (I Said)

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=4NGElYUme3U

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