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Toyah explores unexpected sonic territory on Toyah! Toyah! Toyah!

Expanded 1981 live album Toyah! Toyah! Toyah! captures the end of Toyah’s punk-lite phase

Toyah: Toyah! Toyah! Toyah! cover art
(Image: © Cherry Red)

Released just as Toyah’s eponymous band were on the cusp of top five pop fame, this 1981 live album was recorded at Wolverhampton’s Lafayette Club in June 1980. Part of Cherry Red’s ongoing run of Toyah reissues, Toyah! Toyah! Toyah! is a lovingly repackaged historical artefact, interesting today mostly as a document of that liminal period when the experimental ethos of post-punk was being tamed and codified into a slicker, softer, more commercial new-wave aesthetic. 

Although much of the music now sounds toothless and dated, tracks like Love Me or Visions still have an agreeably discordant, angular, squawking energy, with hints of reggae and prog rock that place them at least in the same exploratory sonic terrain as PiL or the Banshees

The previously unreleased Ghosts also has an enjoyably adrenalised powerpop bite, while Ieya is one of Toyah’s strongest early songs, a whooshingly dramatic synth-rock epic that gains extra clout from the gnarly crunch of this analogue-era live recording. 

On its original release the album was promoted with a tie-in TV documentary profile of Toyah, which is included as a DVD in this reissue package, in which the flame-haired actor-singer proves to be every bit as gauche and pretentious as any 22-year-old with grandiose showbiz ambitions can be.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.