I love this album. I’ve loved it since the original version came out around 1990. Toy Matinee was the work of Patrick Leonard on keyboards, Kevin Gilbert on vocals and various instruments, and lots of friends like Tim Pierce on guitar, and Bill Bottrell on production. It’s a very special record that really didn’t sell much at the time it came out. But don’t let that fool you. It’s got some amazing pop music on it. In fact, one of the cuts, “The Ballad of Jenny Ledge” is one of those songs released very rarely – a brilliant song with a great lyric, killer vocals, a beautiful mix of acoustic and electric guitars, and a nice solo. How this could not be a smash hit is beyond me.
And that’s not the only killer cut. “Last Plane Out” is the sort of shiny L.A. poppy funk that jumps out of the stereo. It’s also got a very funny lyric that becomes less funny the more you think about it. You’ll have to hear it to understand…
This version of the album has bonus cuts that help you hear how the songs developed. It’s very interesting to note the growth of things like “Last Plane Out” and the equally-wonderful “Things She Said.” Guitars throughout are a real pleasure. An electric jab here, an acoustic wash there, they really add to help create some cool tunes. Subtle, but up-front, creating the perfect pop/rock concoction.
Gilbert’s vocals are great on pretty much every cut. Bowie-esque at times, but never less than interesting. His death by accidental hanging was a tragic blow for rock music. If you don’t know this album, and you’re a fan of pop/rock, check it out. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
This review originally appeared in VG‘s June ’01 issue.