The Toy Dolls
The Toy Dolls are an English punk rock band formed in 1979. Instead of angry and anarchaic lyrics and music, The Toy Dolls played songs which were fun and lyrically amusing. Such as Yul Brynner Was A Skinhead, My Girlfriend’s Dad’s A Vicar and James Bond Lives Down Our Street. There is often alliteration in their song titles (e.g. Peter Practice’s Practice Place, Fisticuffs in Frederick Street, Neville is a Nerd). Many of their albums usually include a cover version of a well-known hit song, usually speeded up to the usual punk rock tempo. Their albums often start with a short intro with a catchy guitar riff, and end with an outro, which is usually a slightly longer variation of the intro riff. Kazoos are also prominent in many of their songs
The Toy Dolls formed as a quartet featuring vocalist Pete Zulu Robson, Michael Algar also known as Olga on guitar Colin Scott on drums and Phillip Flip Dugdale on bass. After just a few gigs, Zulu left to form his own band and was replaced by Paul Hud Hudson on vocals for one concert. After Hud’s departure, the Toy Dolls became a trio, with guitarist Olga assuming permanent vocal duties.
Scott left the band in 1980 and was replaced by Dean James for four months over the summer of 1980. James later returned to the band from 1985 to 1988 as bassist. Flip left in 1983, marking the beginning of a revolving door of drummers and bassists that would characterise the Toy Dolls line-up over the years (with Olga as the mainstay and only original member). In 1984, Zulu returned to the line-up as bassist/backing vocalist, but departed again less than a year later.
They were initially grouped with the Oi! scene, and have also been classified as punk band. One reason they are associated with Oi! is that they were championed by Garry Bushell, who was involved with Oi! bands.
In 1980, a Sunderland businessman financed the Toy Dolls’ debut single, Tommy Kowey’s Car with She Goes To Fino’s on the B-side. The single quickly sold out its initial pressing of 500 copies, but the band could not afford to press any more, making the single a collector item. Around the time the band signed to Volume Records, Olga moved to Newton Hall, in north Durham, which led to the song Livin’ on Newton Hall.
For Christmas 1982, they released their punk rendition of Nellie the Elephant which went to number 1 in the UK Indie Chart. In 1983, they released their debut album Dig That Groove Baby. In 1984, their re-issue of Nellie the Elephant reached number 4 in the UK Singles Chart and stayed in the chart for 14 weeks.
Since then, the band has continued to release albums and to tour widely, mainly across continental Europe and South America. After a gap of 14 years since their last gig in Britain, 2007 saw a string of UK dates taking in cities from Glasgow to London, including a triumphant homecoming for a sold-out show at Durham University.
To celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary in 2004, the official biography, The Toy Dolls: From Fulwell to Fukuoka, was published by Ardra Press. In 2011, the band is scheduled to release its 12th studio album.
The bands 30th anniversary in October 2009 saw the band receiving a whole load of special congratulation messages to their official website from a varied selection of musicians including Baz Warne from The Stranglers, TV Smith from The Adverts Jake Burns and Stiff Little Fingers & Kent Jamieson.
As of 2007, the band has had 14 different drummers and 12 different bassists. Olga is the only remaining original member of the band. After Olga, drummer Martin Yule had the longest member of the band (1987–1999). Yule currently owns a shop in Sunderland called Hotrats. Former drummer Dave the Nut Nuttall owns Jalapeño Drums Company. The current lead singer/guitarist with The Stranglers Baz Warne also had a stint with the band. Gary Dunn, former bassist of The Toy Dolls (1997–1999), now teaches music at City of Sunderland College, and former drummer Trevor ‘The Frog’ Brewis now teaches music at Middlesbrough College, though Olga moved away from the north east of England a number of years ago, and now lives in London.
The current lineup is Michael “Olga” Algar – lead vocals, guitar with Duncan “The Amazing Mr. Duncan” Redmonds – drums, vocals and Tom “Tommy Goober” Blyth – bass, vocals. Past members have included Peter “Pete Zulu” Robson – bass, guitar; Phillip “Flip” Dugdale – bass; Colin “Mr. Scott” Scott – drums; Paul “Hud” Hudson – vocals; Dean “Dean James” Robson – drums; Trevor “Trevor The Frog” Brewis – drums; Graham “Teddy Toy Doll” Edmundson – drums; Robert “Happy Bob” Kent – drums; Steve “Rubiboy” Mallinson- bass; Frederick “Freddie Hotrock” Robertson – bass; Nick Buck – drums; Barry “Bonny Baz” Warne – bass; Alan “Dirty Dicka” Dixon – drums; Malcolm “Dicky” Dick – drums; Paul “Little Paul” Smith – drums; Ernest “Ernie” Algar – bass; Kevin “Canny Kev” Scott – drums; Martin “Marty” Yule – drums; John “K’Cee” Casey – bass; Richard “Dicky Hammond” Hammond – bass; Gary “Gary Fun” Dunn – bass; Suba – drums; Michael “Reb” Rebbig – bass; David “Dave the Nut” Nuttall – drums.
|1983||Dig That Groove Baby|
|1985||A Far Out Disc|
|1987||Bare Faced Cheek|
|1989||Ten Years Of Toys|
|1990||22 Tunes Live From Tokyo|
|1991||Fat Bobs Feet|
|1997||One More Megabyte|
|1999||On Stage in Stuttgart|
|2004||Our Last Album?|
|2006||Treasured Toy Dolls Tracks Live|
Live Albums and Bootlegs