Love Is The Law

1983, Marquee Studios, Soho, London

I have mixed feelings about this album primarily because, apart from writing and submitting quite a lot of demo material I had written with Joel, I didn't really have much to do with the recording at all.. The Toyah Band had done yet another UK tour at the end of 1982 and the ticket sales had started to evidently diminish compared to the success of the Changeling tour the previous summer. My view retrospectively is that it was just too much more, too soon, with no new recordings but the 'live' album to support and, with Simon Phillips having gone to pastures new, we should have gone away, had a good rest, regrouped, made solid new plans and come back in 1983 fresh and strong with a new look and sound. As I said in The Changeling story this band could have had a very long and carefully planned artistic career like Siouxie And The Banshees or The Cure but other people in and around the band had other agenda. In the music business and life that often means the selfish and narrow minded way forward isn't necessarily the intelligent way forward. I suppose I also realised that any lingering hopes I had at this time, the end of 1982, that we were going to continue as a band were rapidly disappearing. I had been asked by Mike Oldfield to join his band for his summer European tour earlier in 1983 and, having done some studio sessions for his album 'Crises' in February of that year, had decided that this was an excellent opportunity which I needed to take so I could move on and hopefully UPWARDS with my music career. 

I can't remember exactly how or when this happened (probably about the end of June) but I know that after I'd come back from Mike O's tour I got a call about coming down to the Marquee Studios to put some bass on a few tracks that apparently 'weren't quite right yet'. Touring with Mike had been, yet again for me, a veritable whirlwind and, whilst I had partied merrily across Europe, my career and reputation had climbed considerably overnight. Coming back to my old 'band friends' was a nice thought but I found that the atmosphere around the whole thing had changed. I was still partying and snorting coke for England and most certainly at the top of my game as a young musician and supremely confident at what I was doing musically. In retrospect when I think about it, I could sense there was a little resentment towards me from certain people in the Toyah camp as I was suddenly in a new band (MO's band) that had a massive hit all over Europe with 'Moonlight Shadow', and I mean MASSIVE, and that kind of international success, for one reason or another, had eluded Toyah and the Toyah band. Joel to his eternal credit was pleased for me, as a true friend would be, as was Keith Hale, but I can't say that everyone else was. 

The sound of the band that I had known and been part of had certainly gone and in it's place was a somewhat 'wishy-washy' sound that had obviously been worked up in a home studio somewhere without the participation of a full group as such. Remember that music production had been moving into an era where computerised technology, often controlled by keyboard players, was beginning to creep into and also overwhelm a lot of productions. That's not to say that bands who'd learned to use the burgeoning technology as part of their sound were producing mediocre music; far from it. OMD, Depeche Mode, Human League, Heaven 17 and Ultravox for example all found a valid place for what I call 'machinery' in their successful productions. In my experience and understanding, if you're going to have a traditional live band, that band should work because you have a drummer, bassist, guitarist and keyboard player, all with their own idiosyncrasies and talents, doing their own things and contributing accordingly and coming together with the singer topping it off, often writing the lyrics and delivering them with passion and self belief.  With session keyboard players largely assuming control, with no real feel for the other instruments other than what their machines could produce and what they THOUGHT should have been be played, you got and still can get very soulless and unsympathetic sounds and arrangements which may flatter to deceive but aren't in fact very good at all. I think that was the case with a lot of this album … If you listen to the beef and guts of 'Anthem' and especially 'The Changeling', for me there's no contest sound and feel wise … 

The brightest spot in this whole exercise for me was that, after two and a half years, I finally got the credit for helping to write one of the singles. I'd come up with the verse sequence for 'The Vow' and I remember playing it to Joel in my front room in my flat in Regent's Park. We were always messing about with grand ideas based on or influenced by classical music because Joel is, on the quiet, a very good classical guitarist … part of his training as a kid I imagine.  I considered The Vow's guitar picked chord sequence, or the way I tried to play it, quite original at the time and Joel went away with it and added his bits, then Toyah added hers and it finished up as quite a lovely rock ballad. I daresay that two years earlier it would have been a much bigger hit than it was. Ironically I didn't actually play on it either … still, after all, it was an ambition fulfilled for me …

Going back to the sound and the feel of this album I remember getting my usual hard and crunchy sound with the Ampeg and the black Fender Precision and then overdubbing the bass to some of these tracks and feeling like I had to smash the life out of them because the feel of the tracks just wasn't there for me. It was so obviously an album made largely by session players, certainly not a band. Now there's nothing wrong with session players of course; I've largely been a session player in my own career BUT there are horses for courses and getting session players to try and recreate a band 'sound' for something they've hitherto had no idea of i.e.. Toyah, plus band, plus personalities, plus direction etc. again was naive and short sighted. Maybe it could be seen as a career progression for Toyah ??? I don't know … maybe I'm just biased !!! I know there are a lot of people quite fond of this album so maybe I'm doing them a disservice but it just doesn't do it for me.

I've had to have a really good listen to this album to work out which tracks I did finally play on because the credits recorded in various places on the internet differ depending on the source. So here's a list of the tracks I BELIEVE I played on … 

  1. I Explode … My bass is mixed in with some kind of synth bass, certainly on the verses
  2. Rebel Run … That's me and my 'thumbs rock' sound
  3. The Time Is Ours … Not sure about this one … I'm listed as playing but it sounds VERY laid back for me … needs more listening !!!
  4. Love Is The Law … full 'rock' mode … MY Fender/Ampeg sound
  5. Remember … ditto above 


As a post script I did do a couple of backing tracks 'live' along with Andy Duncan playing drums. Andy and I were to appear on other records together and I always found it very easy to do backing tracks with him 'live'. We played together on Jimmy Somerville's album 'Dare To Love' in the 1990's and I played some of my best ever bass to his programmed rhythm tracks on Robbie William's 'Sing When You're Winning' … good guy … 

Love is the law