Toy Love

Live at the Gluepot 1980

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Toy Love were the vitally important transitional link between New Zealand's early punk rock scene and the remarkably vital indie rock community that would follow: lead singer Chris Knox and guitarist Alec Bathgate would go on to form the Tall Dwarfs, bassist Paul Kean would join the Bats, and roadie Ian Dalziel would work for Flying Nun Records, the label that brought the nascent New Zealand sound to the world. But while Toy Love's historical significance is firmly acknowledged, an accurate picture of what they could do musically was a long time coming; their sole, self-titled 1980 album was a botch disowned by the group, and it wasn't until 2005 that the anthology Cuts allowed the historically minded to hear Toy Love as they were meant to be heard. Live at the Gluepot adds more evidence of Toy Love's strengths to the canon; this is a monophonic recording of the band on-stage in Auckland during their farewell tour in the fall of 1980, and it demonstrates that tales of the band's frantic, energetic live shows were entirely accurate. While in the studio Toy Love had a poppier, new wave sound, on-stage they were still very much punk rockers, more musically sophisticated than they were in their early days as the Enemy, but still capable of impressive guitar firepower and snarling attitude. Jane Walker's keyboards are largely inaudible on this recording, only occasionally bobbing into the mix, and the audience is so rarely heard that sometimes one might forget they were there, but otherwise Live at the Gluepot is a simple but righteously effective archival document; Chris Knox sounds feral behind the mike and remarkably witty between tunes, Alec Bathgate's guitar is bruisingly powerful but displays an impressive melodic imagination, and bassist Paul Kean and drummer Mike Dooley lay down a solid foundation, with just enough swing to keep things lively. The songs range from the playful to the ominous, and Toy Love sound solidly committed throughout, determined to make the most of their final moments on-stage. Live at the Gluepot is a crucially important document for fans of New Zealand's fabled indie pop heyday, but anyone who likes good, heavily snarky rock & roll will appreciate this recording of Toy Love going out in a blaze of glory.

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