Toy Matinee
April 2, 2024 8:05 AM   Subscribe

I've been struggling with making this post for a long time, but I think the video The GREATEST Band I EVER Joined | The STORY of TOY MATINEE [~30m] is the best inroad I can find. It's a guitarist who talks to many who were also involved in the band, and everyone who was involved completely adores the project. Here's the Toy Matinee album in question. [YT playlist] It's prog pop, unlike anything I've really heard much before or since.

There's a lot more to this story, and some of it is alluded to in the video, but I really wanted to focus on the Toy Matinee album, and let the conversation draw out the rest of the story.
posted by hippybear (23 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Great band - looking forward to seeing this video. Kevin Gilbert was super talented - his album Thud is also really good.
posted by whatevernot at 8:08 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]

Loves me some Kevin Gilbert, ever since "Toy Matinee" came out. Haven't heard it yet, but I understand "The Shaming of the True" is really good, too.

He was one of the great ones; definitely died to soon.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:41 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]

Kevin Gilbert, Mike Keneally (his discography is another great prog rabbit hole), Nick D'Virgilio and Bryan Beller teamed up to record (imo) one of the best Yes covers ever: Siberian Khatru
posted by kurumi at 8:45 AM on April 2 [4 favorites]

Oooooo that Siberian Khatru covers thumps along really good. Looks like today is turning out to be all proggy on the stereo.
posted by whatevernot at 9:19 AM on April 2

Such a great band, and what a shame to lose Kevin Gilbert so soon.
posted by emelenjr at 9:52 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]

Later Gilbert cover: Kashmir (SLYT)
posted by luckynerd at 10:24 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]

Wow, YouTube noticed that I watched that Siberian Khatru video and has decided to populate my suggestions with Yes and other prog covers and I couldn't be happier!
posted by hippybear at 10:58 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]

My first exposure to Gilbert was his cover of Genesis' Back in N.Y.C. It's my favorite version of the song.
posted by KingEdRa at 10:58 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]

I love Kevin Gilbert. Primarily Toy Matinee and Kaviar.

Less Thud, Shaming of the True and Giraffe.

I recommend the Roxy Live versions if you haven't heard them.

There's also these rehearsal/demo vids.

Not sure how, possibly appearances by Kevin on KLOS' morning show (Mark & Brian) but I got a copy of Toy Matinee during its initial release.

And though I loved it then, it was only after Kevin was gone that I learned about his other projects, the Tuesday Night Music Club/Sheryl Crow connection, and realized what an immense talent he was.

posted by snuffleupagus at 11:02 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]

That album is ridiculously good -- the writing, the playing, the production. Such a shame that there wont be another album with Kevin Gilbert .
posted by milnak at 12:03 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]

If you don’t know/remember this album/band, start with The Ballad of Jenny Ledge.
posted by wittgenstein at 1:41 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]

Man they have an...odd sound. The keys and bass sound like music from commercials. The lyrics are pretty good- they have something to say that is not generic, but the singer sounds like a big fan of yacht rock, and the hooks in the songs are not very strong.

It sounds to me like some alternate world where new wave/dance/hair metal/indie/ and all the music of the 1980s never happened, and late '70s lite pop rock got a bit more proggy. Like instead of Michael Jackson & Madonna being the kings and queen of pop, Christopher Cross ruled the airwaves.

It takes a certain mood, but I can dig it.
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:06 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]

Well, you mention Madonna, so it should be mentioned that Patrick Leonard, the other major songwriter on the album, worked with Madonna pretty extensively right up until he did a thing she didn't like. But much of her early material from Like A Prayer through I'm Breathless was co-written with Leonard.
posted by hippybear at 2:11 PM on April 2

TNMC. . . . that's quite a can of worms. I had a friend (RIP, Dan!) who attended some sessions and has credit on that album.
posted by luckynerd at 2:17 PM on April 2

Patrick Leonard, the other major songwriter on the album, worked with Madonna pretty extensively right up until he did a thing she didn't like

I saw that and was quite surprised at the sound. I mean the Jack Abramoff of FUN and The Bleachers writes songs that sound like Taylor Swift songs, so it thew me.
posted by The_Vegetables at 5:15 PM on April 2

I do like the bit of trivia that Queen of Misery is about Madonna.
posted by emelenjr at 8:02 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]

Bass player Guy Pratt on Last Plane Out
posted by emelenjr at 8:08 PM on April 2

Man they have an...odd sound.

What they sounded like to me when I first bought their album the day it landed in stores way back when [entirely on the strength of the lead single] was they had mastered the newish digital editing and mastering tools to a level that was unexpected, and they were using the studio as an instrument to the same level as The Beatles were in their later albums only with modern tech.

Honestly I wish there were oral histories about this album and maybe some retrospectives with the studio production team about what they did. There is so much going on here!
posted by hippybear at 8:28 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]

Oh sorry, I forgot that "Queen Of Misery" is the thing that Patrick Leonard did that Madonna didn't like. I forgot that was on this album.
posted by hippybear at 9:04 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]

If you don’t know/remember this album/band, start with The Ballad of Jenny Ledge.

Literally the most Steely Dan of tracks... an interesting suggestion.
posted by hippybear at 9:10 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]

If Toy Matinee has left you wondering what else Mr. Gilbert has put out, here's The Shaming of the True in its entirety.
posted by luckynerd at 9:16 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]

I like "We Always Come Home." [live]

If we're going to compare the band to other fare of the moment, it's closer to the Traveling Wilburys than the solo-Henley or stage music feel of the other tracks on Toy Matinee.

Thud and Giraffe are the less radio-friendly prog-pop efforts, and Shaming of the True is necessarily more theatrical (like the Toy Matinee title track itself).

Then there's Kaviar, which is like....NiN lite? Death Race 9K, Broken (a cover, apparently).

Toy Matinee (as an LP) also reminds me at certain moments of Sting's Soul Cages which is also rather under-appreciated imo. Soul Cages. Island of Souls.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:41 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]

Huh, never heard of Toy Matinee or Kevin Gilbert before...reminds me a bit of Split Enz/Crowded House.
posted by foonly at 8:52 PM on April 3

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