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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Toyah

Toyah! Toyah! Toyah!

Review by Gary Hill

This band bore the name of its lead singer Toyah Willcox. She has come to renewed prominence, and probably for many of those of us in the states first time attention these days driven by the videos she and her husband Robert Fripp did during the Covid lockdowns and beyond. This band was considered new wave music, but honestly, there is plenty of art rock along space rock and even some pure prog here. That feeds into my decision to put this under prog, as does her Fripp association now. This is an intriguing live set, and this new edition includes a bonus DVD documentary that features interview segments, music videos and love concert footage. I think this would make a great introduction to this artist and is sure to be worth having for long-time fans, too. Three of the four bonus tracks on the CD are previously unreleased, lending some real value to those who were already fans.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Victims of the Riddle
Keyboards bring this in, and the guitar and other elements join from there. The vocals are of the artsy, odd yet cool variety. This is very much an art rock type of piece with a lot of theatrical expression built into it.
Indecision
With echoey lines of vocals as it gets underway, this makes me think of what you might get if you merged Devo with the punkier side of Hawkwind and added Willcox' vocals. I really dig the bass work on this thing. It's a killer tune. The dropped back section is pretty trippy and artsy, too.
Love Me
More pure new wave music, this cut is a great tune. It's the most mainstream thing to this point. There is still plenty of art-rock in the mix, though. I'm reminded a little of Missing Persons on this song.
Vision
Bouncy, driving and punky, this is another entertaining bit of new wave art music. There are some unique twists and turns, and the organ parts of this are intriguing. The more direct movement later has some definite Hawkwind-like elements and some killer bass work. Of course, the guitar is noteworthy, too.
Tribal Look
This number also has a great combination of artistic new wave music and a space rock angle. It's driving, energetic and very cool. I have to say that it wouldn't take much of a stretch of an imagination to hear what Hawkwind would do with this song.
Bird in Flight
The opening arrangement on this has a focus on both the keyboards and vocals, those two elements standing out front of the arrangement. The cut builds from there with style and artistic charm. This is one of the more mainstream tunes of the set. There is a dropped back section that is mainly keyboards late, but it gets back out to more rocking stuff from there.
Danced
This is one of the coolest tunes here. It has a hard rocking angle to it, but the new wave keyboard structures are pronounced and in control at times. This has a real art rock angle, as well. There is sort of a full-on nearly prog rock jam later in the tune.
Insects
What an intriguing piece this is. It has a definite art angle to it. There is plenty of punk and new wave in the mix, too, though.
Race Through Space
Now, this piece is really ahead of its time. There is a definite modern prog angle to this. Based on the title, you'd expect some space rock, and we get that, too. This is another classy song that keeps shifting and changing and really bends genres.
Ieya
Keyboards lead things off here. The tune rocks out as it continues from there. This is another situation where I can hear links to the music of Hawkwind. It's still driving new wave, but there is enough prog and space rock in the mix to keep it from landing purely on that new wave end of the spectrum. It love the shifts and changes and there is some particularly dramatic stuff here.
Bonus Tracks:
                       
Ghosts

This is a more driving and edgy new wave tune. It's less art rock oriented than some of the rest, but it's definitely not an attribute that's completely missing.

Neon Womb (Unedited Version)
Artsy, hard rocking and still quite punky and new wave in nature. It's quite an intriguing piece of music. It has enough intriguing changes to keep it artsy.
She
This is driving and artsy from the onset. It's a really highlight of the set for me. There is a real dark angle to this thing.
Danced (Encore Version)
There is an extensive instrumental movement built into this version of the song. I think I like this better than the other take.
 
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