Toy Dolls

Picture of Toy Dolls

Dig That Groove Baby

Toy Dolls - Dig That Groove Baby ©1983 Castle/Sanctuary
1. Theme Tune
2. Dig That Groove Baby
3. Dougy Giro
4. Spiders In The Dressing Room
5. Glenda And The Test Tube Baby
6. Up The Garden Path
7. Nellie The Elephant
8. Poor Davey
9. Stay Mellow
10. Queen Alexandra Road Is Where She Said She'd Be, But Was She There To
11. Worse Things Happen At Sea
12. Blue Suede Shoes
13. Firey Jack
14. Theme Tune

Much like the Dickies in the US, the Toy Dolls provided a nice alternative to the ultra-political and, for the most part, dead serious bands that dominated the UK punk scene at the time. Don't get me wrong, I like radical politics as much as the next guy and Conflict and Icons Of Filth definitely have their place in my regular listening schedule, but there is also a place for silly escapism as well, and that is exactly what the Toy Dolls provide on their first LP. This record, for the most part, consists of one excellent pop-punk song after another, the kind of songs that are permanently burned in your memory after hearing them only once. Highlights for me are "Spiders In The Dressing Room", "Glenda And The Test Tube Baby" and the wonderfully catchy "Firey Jack". Oh, and who could forget their classic cover of the children's song "Nellie The Elephant"? It was the band's only major hit, and they're probably still living off of the money they made from that single alone! Lyrically, they cover everything from back-aches to British soap operas to pesky arachnids. The band's relentlessly goofy and wacky sense of humor might put some people off, but I can't help but love a band that bases their entire existence on being silly and having fun.

Though this isn't my absolute favorite Toy Dolls record (the two albums that follow it are even better!), it's an extremely fun time and one of the best debut LPs of the era, not to mention an excellent way to begin their legacy of silliness. If only all pop-punk was this good.

Oh, and if you get the 2003 Castle/Sanctuary reissue, you also get four bonus tracks that are just as good as the rest of the record. Damn, what a great band!

Review by Mark Pennington

Review date: 10/2003

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Bare Faced Cheek

Toy Dolls - Bare Faced Cheek ©1987 Castle
1. Bare Faced Cheek
2. Yul Brynner Was A Skinhead
3. How Do You Deal With Neal?
4. Howza Bouta Kiss Babe?!?
5. Fisticuffs In Frederick Street
6. A. Diamond
7. Quick To Quit The Quentin
8. Nowt Can Compare To Sudnerland Fine Fare
9. Neville Is A Nerd
10. Park Lane Punch Up
11. The Ashbrooke Launderette...You'll Stink, Your Clothes Shrink, Your White's Will Be Black As Ink
12. Bare Faced Cheek

Quite possibly the goofiest and snottiest of all the punk bands to come out of England around '79-80, Toy Dolls have been going about their business of being quite seriously silly for what seems like an eternity. Through several lineup changes and changes in the punk world around them, Toy Dolls remain a constant of bratty three chord punk and containing little need to be a political entity like many other punk bands of the era were.

1987's Bare Faced Cheek is a rather hit or miss affair for the band that encapsulates the entire motif of the trio. The music was straight forward, non-abrasive three chord punk with very typical snotty British, high pitched vocals from guitarist Olga, with the other two members of the band offering shouted backups throughout. The interplay is often fun, particularly on the better tracks. "Howza Bouta Kiss Babe?!?" is infectious boppy and one of those songs you simply must sing along with. "Neville is a Nerd" falls along those lines as well, following the humor through with a dose of good songwriting. Toy Dolls were quite simply never going to be giving guitar clinics to budding shredders, but their approach was meant to basic. The downside is that on many of the songs here the humor is just not enough to cover up the fact the songs were weak. Ultimately it becomes one of those things you aren't going to throw on very often because their silly humor can get old with successive listens.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2001

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