First, the bad news. When the 21st century arrived, most of the Immaculate Fools' '80s and '90s albums were out of print in the United States -- the Brits weren't nearly as well known in North America as they were in Spain. Now, the good news: The band's albums are quite absorbing, if you can track them down. Released by Sony in Spain and Continuum in the U.S., 1992's The Toy Shop is a fine example of the Immaculate Fools' appealing sound -- a sound that combines Irish/Celtic touches with influences that range from the Psychedelic Furs and David Bowie to Bob Dylan. It's an interesting mix, certainly, and one that works impressively well on tuneful, melodic tracks like "Heaven Down Here," "Good Times," and "Cotillas." In the '80s and '90s, there were plenty of Irish and Scottish rockers who brought a Celtic influence to the table, but among British bands, that type of approach wasn't nearly as common. As a rule, British rockers sounded British -- not Irish or Scottish -- but if a listener didn't know better, he/she might assume that the Immaculate Fools were from Dublin or Belfast instead of London. And why shouldn't a group of Londoners be Celtic-influenced? There is no law stating that being from London rules out the possibility of appreciating Irish/Celtic culture and incorporating that influence. The surprising thing is that the band was more popular in Spain than anywhere else -- how often does a British alternative pop/rock band with a strong appreciation of Irish/Celtic music become especially popular in Spain and end up moving to that country? It certainly isn't an everyday occurrence. Like previous Immaculate Fools releases, The Toy Shop enjoyed its biggest sales in Spain. But one doesn't have to be Spanish to realize how much this CD has going for it.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson