Toyah – The Blue Meaning Expanded Deluxe Edition review

22 04 2021

Cherry Red Records are releasing a newly remastered and expanded version of Toyah’s 1980 album The Blue Meaning, the second in a reissue programme of Toyah’s entire Safari Records catalogue. The Blue Meaning will be released on 28 May 2021.

The reissue comes in two formats:

A 2CD+1DVD digipak with a fully illustrated 24-page booklet containing a brand new introductory note from Toyah, plus rare and unseen imagery including album cover outtakes taken at Wykehurst Place. This expanded edition features 27 remastered bonus tracks including single mixes, live tracks, rarities and unheard demos.

There is also a limited edition neon pink coloured vinyl version that looks amazing.

I would imagine anyone reading this review will be familiar with The Blue Meaning, so no in-depth review of the main album is needed. The album has been remastered by Nick Watson at Fluid Mastering, and is the best the album has sounded.

The Blue Meaning is often both musically and lyrically darker than its predecessor Sheep Farming In Barnet, and it works well as a complete album, with a real continuity of sound and lyrical themes. Opening with fan favourite Ieya (I bet you are chanting Zion Zooberon Necronomicon in your head now), other key tracks include Ghosts, the addictive Mummies, the percussive Tiger! Tiger!, the obtuse Insects and my personal favourite, the post-punk delights of She, which still sounds great today.

As with the Sheep Farming In Barnet deluxe reissue, The Blue Meaning is overflowing with extras, and pulls together all the key live and out-take recordings from this era. Silence Won’t Do and Jack & Jill hint at the next stage in the band’s career, with the Four from Toyah EP and 1981’s Anthem album. The Merchant & The Nubile was reworked, with fresh lyrics added on top of a more fleshed out production for Four From Toyah‘s War Boys the following year.

Session versions of Sheep Farming In Barnet‘s Danced and Last Goodbye, along with Love Me from The Blue Meaning are included on the first disc. My favourite from these sessions is the version of Danced, with a Mike Oldfield sounding guitar solo.

The shortened single mix of Ieya and its b side, Helium Song (Spaced Walking), the full version of the album track, rounds off CD one in this deluxe edition.

The second disc opens with a trio of tracks recorded at the ICA London, Love Me, Waiting and Ieya. A couple of alternative vocal takes, including a longer version of Blue Meanings and a version of She with less reverb lead into a weirder, acapella version of Spaced Walking. This is crying out for someone to add their own music and give us a 2021 version. Go on, you know you want to!

Three album songs in instrumental form are next, followed by different takes of Silence Won’t Do, Jack & Jill and The Merchant & The Nubile (these are different recording takes and alternate vocals). Its interesting to hear the development of these songs, presented here in their more raw incarnations.

It’s A Mystery (Original Version) is performed by Blood Donor Feat. Toyah Willcox, and would go on to reach #4 in the UK Singles Charts when re-recorded and released in 1981 as the lead song on the Four from Toyah EP. Most of the original parts of the song are intact in this older take. The only time I saw Toyah live was around this time, in February 1981 at The Rainbow, London. I remember enjoying Huang Chung who were also on the bill. Founder member Jack Hues has said that their early album’s will be re-released on CD soon, so something to look forward to. Huang Chung later renamed themselves as Wang Chung, and went on to have huge hits in the UK and the USA in the mid to late 80s.

Back to Toyah, sorry about the slight digression. The rest of disc two is made up of good quality demo recordings, recorded at Pete Townshend’s Eel Pie Studios in late 1980. I prefer the arrangement of the demo version of Angels & Demons, and another highlight is the Banshees meets The Cure instrumental version of Sphinx. Anthem will also be familiar to fans, as this track formed the basis of the top 10 single I Want to Be Free from 1981, although the punky guitars are the stars on this version.

The final disc (not provided for review) contains three brand new features – an interview with Toyah Willcox about the album/period, a track-by-track album commentary plus an exclusive acoustic three-song session of songs from the era, filmed in October 2020. The DVD also includes rare archive BBC TV performances of Mummies and Danced from Friday Night, Saturday Morning (November 1980).

Buy The Blue Meaning

Buy Toyah – The Blue Meaning Expanded Deluxe Edition (CD / DVD) from Amazon

Buy Toyah – The Blue Meaning limited edition neon pink coloured vinyl from Amazon

CD / DVD

Disc One

  1. Ieya
  2. Spaced Walking
  3. Ghosts
  4. Mummies
  5. Blue Meanings
  6. Tiger! Tiger!
  7. Vision
  8. Insects
  9. Love Me
  10. She
    Bonus Tracks
  11. Silence Won’t Do
  12. Jack & Jill
  13. Cotton Vest
  14. The Merchant & The Nubile
  15. Danced (Session Version)
  16. Last Goodbye (Session Version)
  17. Love Me (Session Version)
  18. Ieya (Single Version)
  19. Helium Song (Spaced Walking)

Disc Two

  1. Love Me (Live At ICA London)
  2. Waiting (Live At ICA London)
  3. Ieya (Live At ICA London)
  4. Blue Meanings (Alternate Vocal)
  5. She (Alternate Vocal)
  6. Spaced Walking (Helium Acapella)
  7. Ghosts (Instrumental)
  8. Mummies (Instrumental)
  9. Vision (Instrumental)
  10. Silence Won’t Do (Alternate Vocal)
  11. Jack & Jill (Alternate Vocal)
  12. The Merchant & The Nubile (Alternate Vocal)
  13. It’s A Mystery (Original Version) By Blood Donor Feat. Toyah Willcox
  14. Angels & Demons (Demo)
  15. You’re My Hero (Demo)
  16. Sphinx (Instrumental Demo)
  17. Walkie Talkie (Instrumental Demo)
  18. Anthem (Instrumental Demo)

Disc Three (NTSC – Region Free DVD)

  1. The Story Behind The Album: Toyah Interview 2020
  2. Track By Track Album Commentary: Toyah Interview 2020
  3. Ghosts: Acoustic Session 2020
  4. Blue Meanings: Acoustic Session 2020
  5. Ieya: Acoustic Session 2020
  6. Danced: Friday Night, Saturday Morning 28/11/1980
  7. Mummies: Friday Night, Saturday Morning 28/11/1980

Vinyl

Side one

  1. Ieya
  2. Spaced Walking
  3. Ghosts
  4. Mummies
  5. Blue Meanings

Side Two

  1. Tiger! Tiger!
  2. Vision
  3. Insects
  4. Love Me
  5. She

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