Oleh Oleh Bandu Bandong takes a semi-robotic bass and drum riff, marries it to two of Benny Hill's Ladybirds vocalising a Malaysian folk-song and then heads off into increasingly avant garde otherworldliness to end up in a chaotic discordant-edge mess. From there you need something to wind things up on a more positive note. All This Crazy Gift of Time manages to do that very well indeed, winding up an album that’s full of invention and variety. 

Predictably, with the album proper out of the way it’s off into bonus track territory, starting with the charming 1970 single Singing A Song In The Morning, which follows on nicely from All This Crazy Gift of Time in a way these things don’t always manage to. A Top Gear session delivers a Whole World version of Clarence in Wonderland with a vocal contribution from Robert Wyatt, a Stop This Train that also features the Whole World with Coxhill wailing away and Bedford chipping in with odd discordant piano motifs, a reworked Why Are We Sleeping that veers off into Whole World avant garde free jazz territory and a maddening little ditty called You Say You Like My Hat featuring (I think) Robert Wyatt on kazoo. 

When it comes to bonus tracks, two separate copies of an album have been known to deliver two sets of those buggers as well. The 2003 CD re-release came bundled with two alternate takes of The Lady Rachel (a longer orchestral version from the Odd Ditties compilation and a slightly shorter single version that seemingly didn’t make it onto the marketplace), three takes of Singing a Song in the Morning (two of them labelled as Religious Experience, one of which features the alleged presence of Syd Barrett) and Soon Soon Soon, all of which are nice to have but don’t add a great deal to the album itself.

Taken as a whole, Joy of a Toy comes across as very much a product of its era, which for someone who lived through the period in question isn’t a bad thing, though those unfamiliar with or daunted by exposure to whimsical English psychedelia may find their mileage varies substantially.

While it’s not Ayers’ masterwork (and there’s a fair body of opinion that would suggest he never managed to deliver one) Toy’s syncretic blend of English music hall elements, warped pop sensibilities, Malayan and Mediterranean languor, lysergic psychedelia, and the French avant-garde indicated a potential that was worth further investigation.

© Ian Hughes 2012