For many years, Toy Love had a semi-mythical status in certain New Zealand music circles. The band, which evolved out of bratty punk act the Enemy in 1979, lasted only a couple years and released only one album, but over the years their legend grew, in large part due to the later success of several key members. Chris Knox became a hugely influential elder statesman of New Zealand’s independent music scene as a solo artist, as part of the superbly twisted home-recording duo Tall Dwarfs (with fellow Toy Love alumni Alec Bathgate), and as all-purpose music commentator/rabble rouser. Paul Kean went on to be the bass player with another influential and longstanding Kiwi act, the Bats, with Robert Scott of the Clean and others.
Recent years, though, have shed a lot of light on the group, and the band has been inducted into the New Zealand music hall of fame, their one album has been re-recorded and re-released (twice!), and now this live recording of one of their last concerts, recorded directly from the mixing desk, has resurfaced. It’s a bracing recording, cutting a swathe through early sarcastic punk tracks from their time as the Enemy and later, far more sophisticated material—at their best, Toy Love had ambition and talent to compare with key post-punk acts such as Television, especially on signature epics like “Squeeze” and “Don’t Catch Fire”. Throughout, Knox’s charismatic, snarky stage presence and Bathgate’s excellent guitar work shine through. Live at the Gluepot is a great addition to the band’s back-catalogue. Finally Toy Love can be appreciated in something like their glory.
// Notes from the Road
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