Visage – Mind of a Toy

Back in October, I was quite rightly berated by a reader for being very rude about Visage by Visage. I’ve owned the Fade to Grey 7″ single and the full LP for over a decade now (as a student I used to scour the Welsh record fairs looking for £1 records, often just because I liked the artwork). My full review of the album is here.

So I looked for some way to redress the balance, and discovered I seem to also have the Mind of a Toy 12″ in my iTunes library

I kicked off by listening again to Mind of a Toy, and concluded that my original feelings were correct (it is, as I said in the album review, “pretty good”). It’s got a nice melody, and the electronics in the background aren’t quite as challenging as some of the other tracks on the album. I’m not particularly blown away by the lyrics (in general it’s a slightly overdrawn metaphor about what happens when you outgrow your toys and throw them away), but it’s a good song nonetheless.

On the 12″, you get an “extended” five minute Dance Mix. Remember, these were the days when a 12″ mix just added an instrumental section or two. If you love the song, that’s a good thing; if not then you might struggle, but either way I think I can be forgiven for not getting too excited about this version. It’s still “pretty good”; just five minutes long rather than four and a half.

Unusually for the 1980s, you get two b-sides (that’s “bonus tracks” for any kids that are reading. Actually, does that help? You’re probably all listening to illegal downloads on your phones…)

The first is We Move, again the Dance Mix. Actually, I have to take issue with this slightly – I’m not the world’s greatest dancer, but I really can’t see myself dancing to this. But then, I wasn’t really particularly aware of events in 1981, so I don’t think I would have been doing a lot of dancing anyway. We Move mainly repeats “we move” and “we dance” for six minutes or so. There’s a nice bobbly bass line going on, and a lot of rock style drum fills, with some warbly electronics and guitar effects in the background. Generally pleasant, but nothing to dance home about.

The final track is one of their more experimental moments, Frequency 7, yet again slightly improbably a Dance Mix. It’s difficult to know what to say without having heard the six previous frequencies in context, but it is a little dull to say the least. It sounds basically like a studio jam, where someone has played the drums while someone else has noodled with a synthesizer over the top. Occasionally they’ve had a bit of fun with FX boxes, adding a flanged drum breakdown or the like, but generally I struggled a bit with this one.

All in all, then, if this were 1981 and I’d been standing in a vinyl listening booth, I’d probably have stuck with the album version, and spent my money on something else. Pleasant enough though.

If you want to recreate this single, you actually need to buy their second album The Anvil, in its 2008 reissued and remastered form – available here on Start with track 15, then jump back to 10, and finish with track 11.

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