Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Significant Albums: Toy Matinee (1990)

File:Toy Matinee.jpg

It was the fall of 2004. I started a brand new job, and I was being introduced and reintroduced in some ways to both Jeff Buckley and Kevin Gilbert.

I think it was actually before 2004 I heard the name Toy Matinee. It may have been when the 1st OSI album came out, it was brought up in a topic in Mike Portnoy's forum, by Mike himself I think. A trivia question about artists who released a Self-Titled album with a Self-Titled song on it. And among them, Mike mentioned Toy Matinee one of a handful of artists that qualified. And I don't even think he included Kevin Gilbert's name.

But I must have found an mp3 of Last Plane Out or somethine in 2003 or 2004.  But the biggest point was one day I went down to a music store in Apple Valley that I don't believe is around anymore sadly. It was like a Video rental place and cd store, or perhaps a CD Exchange or CD Warehouse. I wish I knew specifically, but I remember seeing 2 copies of Toy Matinee's cd there, for like $5 a piece. I forget why but I snatched up both of them.

I wish I could remember my background at that point with them, but I do recall after that point playing one them constantly at work. I was so blown away by the clean production and nuances. This was such a great sounding pop record. The period it came out didn't matter much to me. Even if it resembled 80's pop, much in the vein of Tears For Fears or something.

It in a lot of ways sounded like pop music done by a prog band. Maybe a bit like Spock's Beard or something, who at the time I was still a pretty big fan of, along with Transatlantic. But I had no idea about Kevin Gilbert's history at that point. Only later I would come to realize and follow how he influenced Neal Morse and Spock's (and of course Nick D'Virgilio).

But this album was THEE album that I found my love for my favorite musician to this day, Kevin Gilbert. Even though I would come to understand that Patrick Leonard of course had a ton to do with how good this record was as well. Kevin just sounded so good on every track. The emotion, the personality, the layering, the production, the clever little bits, the voice overs, the lyrics.

Every thing about this album screamed to me, like where the hell have I been to not have known this before?

I mean every track works so well. Last Plane Out, The Ballad of Jenny Ledge, Things She Said, Remember My Name, Queen of Misery, There Was a Little Boy, the Title track. Turn it on Salvador. I even adore the b-side Blank Page, and still regard it probably as the saddest song Kevin ever wrote in some ways (I know the Song For A Dead Friend lovers will disagree!).

A few of my favorite lyrics (knowing myself, I'll probably edit-in more though, lol):
"And this party is addictive Self-destructive, no doubt So I hope that someone saves a seat for me On the last plane out"
"No One Can Take This Away from Me. The Martyrs and Madmen I learned of in School Will Remember My Name"

I came to learn many things in doing research, to the online communities and email lists about this album. How Kevin left Giraffe to make it, how Sheryl Crow went out on tour with him and is of course on the Live at the Roxy album. To not having Patrick and others available to tour. To at least it making its money back.

A major label release which didn't receive the exposure it should have, blah blah blah.

It came out in 5.1, DTS and Special Editions.
It was award a mastering award for excellent signal-to-noise ratio and clarity, one that the likes of Donald Fagen and Stevie Wonder's albums have won.

I guess the music does speak so much for itself, that trying to go on and on about it isn't as valuable as just listening to it again. I own it on cassette, vinyl and multiple cd formats in fact. And each one of them I can still listen to and love. That may be it's best quality, in that I still am hardly tired of it, even after listening to it 100's of times.

It would belong in some kind of library of congress preservation archive if it were up to me of course. I even tried donating a copy to my local library in Eagan back in 2005, but I forget why they told me they couldn't accept it. Something involving money I think, I forget. I just recall thinking, having a copy in a library might expose it to someone who otherwise never would know about this album, which seemed and still does seem incredibly accessible.

Perhaps decades from now, it will be known better, as I'm sure that much of the most well known 80's (or early 90's) pop music will. I would hope fans of Tears for Fears or Simple Minds among others may remember or find it someday if they haven't yet. But, that of course seems too much like the ole wishful thinking.