THE TOY DOLLS
One More Megabyte
THE TOY DOLLS. It's hard to imagine that it's been 18 years since their first release, even harder to imagine they've persevered through nearly two decades without a major label or a U.S. distribution deal. That is, until now: One More Megabyte is available domestically on Rotten Records. While One More Megabyte could be interpreted as the Toy Dolls' cursory nod to the changes they've seen, it's great to hear that the Dolls have arrived in the latter half of the '90s with their irreverence and energy intact. Still high on the humor that delivered the story of "Nellie the Elephant," the lads deliver 14 tracks of unadulterated Toy Dolls--no less jaded or snide than they ever were. One of the disc's high points is a characteristically cheeky cover of the Proclaimers' "(I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles"--it sets the universe to right. Michael "Olga" Agar's guitar solos still have much in common with Eddie Van Halen's Diver Down era. For frantic fingering, check out the guitar duel "Me 'n' John Williams" and the cover of "The Devil Went Down to (Georgia) Scunthorpe." The disc also features a series of guests from The Vibrators, The Inmates, The Wildhearts, Sugar Snatch, and The Lurkers. "Whaddaya think, Lads?" Awww, nice one!
FINALLY, REGGAE music's "other" legend--often overlooked and under appreciated--Peter Tosh is given long overdue recognition with this spectacular 44-cut, triple-CD boxed set retrospective. Along with Bob Marley, Tosh, thanks in part due to the Stones (he opened for them in '78), the Clash and the late '70s two-tone ska punk revival, brought reggae to the forefront, and general acceptance by mainstream America. This comprehensive anthology, marking the 10th anniversary of Tosh's murder at age 42, spans his awe-inspiring 20-year career and includes 58-pages of exhaustive, riveting and vividly colorful liner notes. From Tosh's initial, basement-recorded Jamaican solo singles as a member of the Wailers (co-founded with Marley in '67) up through his final album, No Nuclear War, released in 1987, this stunning collection includes various welcome obscurities, live and unreleased tracks as well as a healthy dose of hit singles. His legacy unfolds, beginning with scratchy, lo-fi, late '60s recordings like "Pound Get A Blow" to the posthumous "Honorary Citizen." Heart-wrenchingly delivered by his executive producer and cousin, Pauline Morris, "Honorary Citizen" incorporates the late singer's haunting taped voice. This ambitious offering clearly portrays Tosh as deeply spiritual and politically sympathetic to the Third World's working poor. And he conveys this insight with his biting, socially conscious lyrics and ingratiating rhythms.
RICHARD THOMPSON & DANNY THOMPSON
DAMN, YET ANOTHER theme album centering on the British industrial revolution. How do they expect us to afford them all? This is the sort of project that's right up guitarist Richard's alley, given his penchant for telling stories on the lower class like he was a musical update of Dickens. Danny Thompson (not only no relation, but bassist in the rival Pentangle when Richard was in Fairport Convention) has frequently backed ambitious projects that praised the British Isles' musical heritage--this being probably the most ambitious yet. Many of the cuts are instrumentals, which will be no disappointment to the guitarist's fans, considering his reputation as el supremo hotshot ax-handler. You'll hear melodies that remind you of previous Thompson cuts ("Big Chimney") but, considering how far the guitarist goes beyond his usual terrain, he's nowhere near guilty of repeating himself. Fine stuff throughout, and if you find yourself still aurally hungry when it's over, it will be because you wish Richard had supplied more of his classic stories of the downtrodden. But give him a break, he can't grovel in the gutter all the time.
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