Graham Reid | | 4 min read
Since the cheaply printed posters reading "Toy Love, live at the Gluepot Sat 21st April" started appearing on walls and lamp posts around central Auckland, I have had to answer a few questions.
People say things like, "So Toy Love are playing the Gluepot, huh?"
Without being condescending I have to point out the famous/notorious Gluepot pub no longer exists, so . . .
The Gluepot in Ponsonby was closed down in the mid Nineties (I wrote an obituary to accompany a photo essay in the Herald) and today in the old building in yuppified Ponsonby are a hair salon (Yes, we desperately needed another of those) and some apartments upstairs where the bands used to play. (Yes, needed them too, right?)
So there is no Gluepot for Toy Love -- who folded over 30 years ago -- to play at anyway.
And only if I am pressed do I gently mention the current condition of Chris Knox, the band's former frontman who had a debilitatng stroke in mid 2009.
Chris is not in any condition to do a reunion show.
My guess is he wouldn't ever have wanted to anyway.
So the posters?
Well, being released is a double album of Toy Love recorded live at the Gluepot by the band's soundman Doug Hood in September 1980.
That was a week before their final concert at Mainstreet.
The album is coming out on Record Store Day which is . . . you guessed it, Saturday April 21.
That's what the cunning posters refer to.
But this is pretty special.
It comes out as a double vinyl album (right) in a gatefold sleeve, in a limited edition (only 400 copies worldwide, on pink or black vinyl) and it will only available through Real Groovy Records in Auckland on that day.
That is about as boutique as boutique gets.
Although I would have thought black and yellow records were more appropriate, they are Chris' colours. (I am told it is "Jamie Jetson Pink" though so . . .)
But what of the sound? Bloody good actually, from what I have heard.
Let's allow Stebbings' Steve McGough -- whose work has impressed the people in the Nashville pressing plant -- to explain the background and what he did by way of audio work.
"During 2008, two cassettes of Toy Love Live at The Gluepot were brought into the studio, delightfully on good quality cassettes, which showed promise that there may be a useful recording thereupon.
"I went about setting up our Nakamichi 582Z cassette deck, cleaning heads and pinch rollers, and finding the all important azimuth screwdriver (to fully optimise the high frequencies).
"A wave of nostalgia followed, as I recall being very impressed that Stebbings owned this machine whilst being shown around during my job interview as a 16-year old in late 1981. Even then I knew this to be near the pinnacle of cassette-dom thanks to Practical Hifi magazine of that era.
"So duly all alignments were made and a surprising and pleasing quality of audio became apparent, and hence transfers were made to ProTools and laid to rest for a few months.
"Then in early 2012 it was decided that the double vinyl release would eventuate. And that somewhere Phil Spector would be smiling because it would be in mono.
"MONO? The reason for this is simple – the cassette feed had been taken directly off the venue mix desk, resulting in the left channel holding bass and drums only, whilst the right channel held vocals, guitars and more drums.
"In a Sixties kind of way it was interesting, but mostly in a forensic manner rather than a musical one.
"So treating this as a two-track multi-track, I set about the job as mix engineer and mastering, all in one step. Shelved bass extension was added to the left channel since otherwise there was too much drumkit, and appropriate e.q. to the right channel to make it sound vital, young and aggressive.
"Some editing was performed to remove gaps that occur live, but keeping a bit of live action banter between most tracks, to keep the listener on the scene.
"Thanks to the Nakamichi, good quality cassette tape and Dolby B working as it was intended, the hiss level is very low. Also there was 'plenty' of level on tape, which adds some distortion that in some ways just makes it sound more fun and raucous.
"The tracks were uploaded to the cutting engineer in the USA and we received a panicked message that no matter what they did, only one channel was showing. Guess they don't cut many mono records these days.
"However after reassurance that mono was what was indeed intended, all proceeded beautifully.
"My hope is that all this work and care will bring to your living room the impressive and powerful experience of Toy Love!"
So there you have it.
Oh, and the track-listing?
Fifteen, Blackboard Grin, Unscrewed Up, Amputee Song, Toy Love Song, I Wanna Die With You, Don't Catch Fire, Bedroom, Photographs of Naked Ladies, Lust, Second to Last Song Toy Love Ever Wrote, Sheep, Swimming Pool, Fast Ostrich, Good Old Joe, I Thought I Needed You, I'm In Love, Green Walls, Horror Comic, Rebel, Cold Meat, Don't Ask Me, Squeeze, I Don't Mind, Ain't It Nice, The Crunch, Death Rehearsal, Bride of Frankenstein and Pull Down the Shades.
All the hits. Ho ho ho.
I am told a quote of mine from the Elsewhere review of the Toy Love compilation Cuts may be used on the cover.
It is, "Toy Love were always best experienced raw and live .... risky and uncompromising, cynical, but oddly life affirming, they left edges unpolished, thrust their wit and rage into your face, had the good sense to get out, and the integrity never to reform. For all those reasons and more, they were rare. And for a brief, thrilling period, they were ours."
Yep, I'll stand by that.
Now. Black or pink, pink or black?
Choice! Choices, choices . . .
For more details on this strictly limited release go here.