Welcome to my blog!

UPDATE: Mediafire have suspended my account and locked my downloads. Having endured the tedium of re-uploading everything I had previously hosted on Mega Upload onto Mediafire earlier this year, I can't be arsed re-uploading everything again.

So please don't ask for things to be reuploaded!

I undertake this venture knowing that I don't have the spare time to do it, but feel that these artists NEED TO BE HEARD (please excuse my shouting!). Or is that I think I need to be heard? Or that there are (or have been) some great music blogs that have inspired me to wanna jump on the bandwagon? Probably all of the above??I hope you enjoy the blog. If I turn one person onto these bands that turned me on then it will all have been worth it!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Toll - The Price of Progression


I know it's fashionable to like lyrics that are oblique or vague enough to fit your life experience, but I've always been a sucker for songs with lyrics that tell a story. Especially when those lyrics are spoken, e.g. The Gift by Velvet Underground, River of Money by the Go-Betweens. And if those lyrics also detail some kind of injustice, such as Silver and Gold and Bullet the Blue Sky from U2s Rattle and Hum, you've got me hook line and sinker. If you're in the same boat, then have I got an album for you......

The Toll are another band that emerged from the post-hair metal pre-grunge era. They primarily played an appealing, competent, but not particularly unique gothic hard rock. What distinguished them from the masses was their penchant to stretch out some of their songs with passionate and compelling spoken word narratives. Their debut album, The Price of Progression, features three such songs, each exceeding 10 minutes, interspersed with shorter straight rock songs. I used to think the two distinct song types were some indication of musical schizophrenia! I later came to realise the shorter songs were a form of light relief - an album full of these longer songs may have come across like being on the frontline!

Jonathan Toledo, the first of the narrative songs, describes the persecution of the American Indians. It starts atmospherically, with sparse drumming and reverberated lead guitar, with the drums kicking in for the chorus. At the 5 minute mark the guitar drops out and the narrative begins, describing the authors trip to a reservation: what right do I have to walk confidently?

Anna-41-box is about a dispirited middle aged woman in an unhappy marriage and the indignity of having to satisfy her husbands sexual urges - the crucifixion of womanhood. It starts with subdued arpeggiated guitar, and slowly builds until the music drops out, leaving a lone voice singing, before the narrative starts.

The third narrtive song,  Living in the valley of pain, starts with lone vocals for the first minute. It tells the story of Jameson Rain, the creative child of orthodox religious and close minded parents Vincent and Dorothy River, who wouldn't follow the rivers meander.

The narrative songs are worth the price of admission themselves. They are all immense.

Of the shorter songs, opener Jazz Clone Clown is a catchy and raucous opener, with the short narrative towards the end giving some indication of what is to follow. Soldiers room, Tamara told me and Stand in Winter, featuring the mighty Mick Ronson on guitar, are more commercial, but still have teeth.

For more info on The Toll, check out the cool fan page at http://www.gregsvoice.com/toll/, from where the above photo was liberated!

The Toll - 1988 - The Price of Progression

1. Jazz Clone Clown
2. Jonathan Toledo
3. Smoke Another Cigarette
4. Soldier's Room
5. Word of Honor
6. Anna-41-Box
7. Tamara Told Me
8. Living in the Valley of Pain
9. Stand in Winter
FLAC Pt1, Pt2, Pt3, Pt4
MP3

7 comments:

  1. I saw this band in Birmingham UK and they were amazing! Incredibly intense and a little bit scary, too. The lead singer spent a lot of time flailing the microphone around his head, putting both the band and audience in danger of decapitation! Incerdibly under-rated band. This is a highly recommended download for lovers of literate hard rock. Good call Ralph!

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  2. Excellent band from back in the day. Saw them twice in Pittsburgh. Have both CDs and certainly had everything needed to be huge, except for luck and publicity. The lead singer now runs a successful marketing company in Ohio (Circone & Associates).

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  3. Amazing, never heard of them, what superb spoken word. Thanks so much for this. Also loved the Underground Lovers.

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  4. Saw them several times in East Lansing, MI and Rick's American Cafe is thanked in the liner notes. They got signed there so, we loved them, never missed them. And thought they would be huge because their live performances were mesmerizing and they would take time to talk to people after the show. Like most live bands this doesn't always transition well to disc and yet they pulled it off pretty well. The masses were not as touched as we were. Though why they didn't release Tamara Told Me as the lead single is a failure in marketing that still boggles my mind. If the lead singer is in marketing, he's probably very good at it because Geffen couldn't have flubbed this one more.

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    1. I gotta say... I was a college DJ at 91 Rock FM in Mt. Pleasant back then. We had "Jonathan Toledo" and "Soldier's Room" on cart -- '87, 88 we're talking. The band used to play The Foolery in town. Anyway, when "The Price of Progression" came out, we got one of the first copies. I got the first listen. Immediately, "Tamara Told Me" stuck way, way out as the obvious first single. And I've seen so many people make the same comment on line over the years... Jesus. Why wasn't it? Could've made a huge difference.

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  5. Thanks for the comments Anonymous. Couldn't agree more - though, alas, I never got to see them live, but read the wonderous reviews of their live shows.

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  6. Hi there. Just wanted to let you know that the link to the fan page doesn't exist anymore. They put up their own web presence at http://www.thetollisdead.com

    Cheers!

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