Toy Dolls

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Long-lived punk outfit Toy Dolls formed in Sunderland, England, in October of 1979, originally comprising singer Pete Zulu (born Peter Robson), guitarist Olga (Michael Algar), bassist Flip (Philip Dugdale), and drummer Mr. Colin Scott. Within a month, and after just a handful of gigs, Zulu left the group, the first in a seemingly endless number of lineup changes to follow in the coming years; with new frontman Hud lasting just one live date, Olga agreed to assume vocal duties, and the remaining Toy Dolls continued as a trio. By the time the group’s debut single, “Tommy Kowey’s Car,” followed in mid-1980, Mr. Scott had exited the lineup as well, with a procession of drummers filling in before the arrival of Teddy Toy Doll (aka Graham Edmundson) toward the end of the year. A handful of compilation tracks including “She’s a Worky Ticket” and “Deirdre’s a Slag” (a potshot at Coronation Street star Deirdre Barlow) further cemented Toy Dolls’ absurdist leanings, and following the exit of Teddy Toy Doll the group tapped drummer Happy Bob (aka Robert Kent, who had previously teamed with Olga in the Showbiz Kids) as his replacement, issuing a self-financed, self-titled EP in September of 1981. The single “Everybody Jitterbug” appeared on EMI the next spring, and in 1983 Toy Dolls issued their long-awaited full-length debut, Dig That Groove Baby. After a tour in support of the Angelic Upstarts, both Flip and Happy Bob left the band, however, leaving Olga the sole surviving original member; the revolving lineups continued, but in 1984 a re-recorded version of the earlier single “Nellie the Elephant” cut with bassist Bonny Baz (Barry Warne) and drummer Dicky (Malcolm Dick) reached the Top Five on the U.K. pop charts. The LP A Far Out Disc followed in 1985, trailed a year later by Idle Gossip; despite the usual personnel turnover, the group celebrated its first decade of existence in 1989 with Ten Years of Toys. Amazingly enough, another solid decade of new music was forthcoming, with few changes to the band’s creative approach and numerous changes to their roster. Cleopatra Records feted the band on its 20th anniversary with the release of the best-of collection The Wonderful World of the Toy Dolls. ~ Jason Ankeny