The Toys


For 1st EP 'My Mind Wanders' (April 79): Pete Abbott (guitars and bass) from Park Street , Gez Sagar (vocals) from High Barnet, Mick Russell (drums) from Hatfield

Joined for gigs and 2nd EP 'Still Dancing' (May 1980) by: Kev Buckler (guitar) from Brickett Wood, Simon Belshaw (sax) from St Albans

The Toys started when Pete Abbott (guitars & bass) asked Gez Sagar (vocals) and Mick Russell (drums) to record an EP with him at Quest studios in Luton. Pete and Mick were 17 and Gez was 16. The EP 'My Mind Wanders' was released in April 79, 1,000 copies pressed and sold to friends and about 20 copies each in St Albans record shops like the Record Room. After an affectionate Danny Baker review in the NME as indie record of the week, the EP was stocked by Rough Trade and Small Wonder who made some mail order sales to collectors of the extremely obscure.

The Toys at that time had no concept of sending demos to record companies and were determinedly local and DIY, although a few years later Pete tried posting a few tapes to the top labels.

The Toys started playing local gigs in the summer of 79 at St Albans art college, the FE college, St Albans City Hall (at the bottom of the bill on a Waldo's night), the Pioneer club, and as far away as Luton FE college.

The set was 10 or 12 original songs, no covers, and took just over 40 minutes.

The Toys sound was two-and-a-half minute jangly no-production guitar songs, always with simple but melodic verse/chorus structures, and lyrics about difficulties with girls caused by inarticulacy, ennui and inability to commit. With a bit more production and compressed guitar it might have been power pop, but the tunes were more like the Carpenters speeded up than the Jam.

The Toys met at the Abbey boys school in St Albans, and formed out of bedroom/garage/youth club bands including The Bedworthies (Gez and Mick), Tepid Halibut (Pete and Simon) and The Pissed (Mick, Kevin, Simon).

They fizzled out by the end of 1980 when the songwriters in the group started refusing to play each others material, and the possibility of a defined sound and style faded away.

A 12 track vinyl LP 'Still Dancing' (2001) was released in Holland by a fan who had contacted Pete asking to borrow old master tapes.

Gez Sagar