When I slid on my knees across the highly polished assembly hall floor at the junior school disco in the mid-80s, little did I know I was hearing punk rock for the first time. Yep, we all know the offending Toy Dolls song that caused holes to the knees on my brown corduroy slacks. Shame on anyone who thinks that things start and end with the chart bothering Nellie the Elephant, though.
A few years later as I reached puberty, I randomly found a cassette in an old Japanese sports car. Let’s just say the owner wasn’t present. I pressed play and it was The Toy Dolls. Such was my surroundings in the pre interweb days, I thought Olga and the boys were actually Japanese! I had a surprise on finally finding their back catalogue outside of my backwards Welsh village.
Now, that 1980s back catalogue has had the reissue CD box set treatment. These clam cased offerings with mini cardboard sleeves and booklets are quite the thing nowadays. So, we get the albums Dig That Groove Baby (1983), A Far Out Disc (1985), Idle Gossip (1986), and Bare Faced Cheek (1987). Disc 5 is where the real gold lies, with rare outings from the debut 7” alongside their cuts from the Strength in Oi! complication. And yes, there is the 1984 version of THAT song.
Suitable for completists or those wishing to delve beyond the greatest hits compilations, The Albums is a 74 track fun fest. Like the Viz meeting the Beano, the cheeky working class social commentators still deserve your attention over a bottle of Lambrusco. Who’d have thunk The Toy Dolls’ bad back advice would become a reality?! Load up on the Fiery Jack, fellow ageing punks. Ginge Knievil