Sunday 15 January 2012

Toy Watches - Too Long 7" Peanut Republic PRR 001, 1980

A year ago Ipswich was under water; surely you remember the claim that a shark was seen swimming down the main street, 30 kilometers from any ocean! Today we revisit the city, but failing the emergence of any more unknown records from there this is our last visit.

The Toy Watches were a punk/pop band based in Ipswich and Brisbane between 1979 and 1981. A popular live prospect, they were picked up by aspirational label Peanut Republic. The result was this obscure 45 - highlighted by the punky pop A-side, Too Long. To be honest we've always neglected this 7"; it's good but doesn't reach out and grab you by the balls. However, in researching this piece we came across the video below, and the photos at rhythm guitarist Ian Davies' myspace site (also see below), and the sense of fun surrounding the band endeared the record to us one more time. The flipside, Hawaii, sounds half-written by comparison, perhaps too much fun was being had.

The iconography on the label starts with a map of Queensland (let's be thankful they weren't Tasmanian). Bursting through is state premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, the kiwi of Dutch extraction who ruled the state from his farm in Kingaroy, the state's centre of peanut production. Don't be fooled by the cheeky grin, as detailed in many places, it wasn't fun politically. See Task Force, Pig City, the band Gerry Mander and the Boundaries, the Dead Kennedys appearance etc., for more musical evidence. Whatever, like the Credits, this is a love song, not political polemic. Davies and later bassist Russell Sky ended up in the great paisley pop band the Colours, whose wistful song Blue Shirt, which really unfortunately never made it to vinyl, was a 4ZZZ hit. I was interested to find out recently that that song is about the cops: "in my blue shirt, nothing touches me".

To round things off the other members were Shaun McGrath on vocals (the tall drink of water in the photo below), John Spresser on lead, Noel Howe on bass, and Cameron Howe on drums. McGrath and Spresser ended up in the Skeletones with Brad Cox.

June 2012 update: check out an article on Peanut Republic Records here.

Too Long [Download]

Hawaii [Download]

The savage, young Toy Watches, more here


noel howe said...

the bass player from toy watches, noel howe, was also in the skeletones

Anonymous said...

hey noel hear you're playin at prince of wales reunion sept 30,..havent seen you since my adam and shayne days back at QIT yonks ago and i cant remember who you played with that night about 1987?

Dave said...

I was a mate of Shauns back then (despite being a surfie!), caught the guys rehearsing in somebodies house with a pool out back, remember giving an impromptu surf board paddling lesson on an inflatable crocodile! Remember a guy call Neil, was he part of the band or a roadie or?

Dave said...

By back then I mean 79. Also the crocodile wasnt the only green thing floating around :)

Frank MacGill said...

"Too Long" was a seminal recording, at the beginning of a rich period of musical history. I remember the first time I saw the Toy Watches live. It was an exciting time. I thought those boys were brilliant. Ahead of their time.

I was shocked when I finally met them and realised they were drunken morons.

Frank MacGill said...

Sorry! I was drunk when I wrote that last line. It isn't true! The previous paragraph is true!

Unknown said...

If anyone has a contact for any of these guys I'd be hugely grateful! Cheers!

Anonymous said...

i have both these 45's from the days
i loved the scene man back then
you had to be tough to survive psysically and menntally
it was a night a a punk driven pub venue every bloody night
whether you worked the next day or not ( in most cases i didn't )
because of the amount of piss and drugs and fighting yout body
coped every night.
self inflicted too right and what a great infliction to have to
look back on.
we all had a huge ball back then , never to be repeated like that in brisso again.