Thursday, June 28, 1990

“There Was a Little Boy” released as album cut on Toy Matinee

First posted 11/8/2020.

There Was a Little Boy

Toy Matinee

Writer(s): Kevin Gilbert, Patrick Leonard (see lyrics here)


Released: June 28, 1990 (as an album cut)


Peak: -- (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

Patrick Leonard made his name as a keyboardist, producer, and composer who worked with Madonna, but he wanted to strike out on his own. He tapped bassist Guy Pratt and producer Bill Bottrell, who had also worked with Madonna for his new group, Toy Matinee. He also recruited guitarist Tim Pierce, drummer Brian MacLeod of Wire Train, and singer, lyricist and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Gilbert, who’d released two albums with the band Giraffe.

The self-titled album produced two minor album-rock hits with “Last Plane Out” and “The Ballad of Jenny Ledge,” but the group disintegrated when everyone went back to other projects. On a personal note, I remember hearing “Last Plane Out” on the radio and seeing the video on MTV. It didn’t grab me quite enough at the time that I decided to check out the entire album. For reasons I don’t remember, I did decide to give the album a shot in the spring of 1992. I’m not sure what prompted me to investigate Toy Matinee then, but my assumption is that I stumbled across the CD in a cut-out bin.

It became that rare album where I eventually embraced every cut. The song that stood out the most, though, was “There Was a Little Boy.” It tackled the subject of child abuse, a topic recently traversed by other 1990 hits like Aerosmith’s “Janie’s Got a Gun” and Madonna’s “Oh Father.” “There Was a Little Boy” took the perspective of a nine-year-old boy whose new stepfather “waits around to play with sister / But he plays too serious, he plays too rough.” As an adult, he finds himself “questioning his once upon a time” as he tries to deal with the long-term effects of abuse. Gilbert sings, “This boy was once a strong man, but getting weaker / He carries more than just the shame inside.”

The song matched the lyrical heft with its instrumental. An incessant beat demands the listener to crank up the sound and break into some serious air drumming. Gilbert amps up the volume himself when he gets to the chorus. While I’m fortunate to have never endured abuse myself, my heart goes out to those who have. Kudos to Leonard or Gilbert for crafting a song which, I suspect is a very personal message from one of them to anyone else who has been abused.


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Toy Matinee released self-titled debut

First posted 2/15/2008; updated 11/8/2020.

Toy Matinee

Toy Matinee


Released: June 28, 1990


Peak: 129 US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)


Genre: adult alternative/neo-progressive rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Last Plane Out [5:13] (9/22/90, 23 AR)
  2. Turn It on Salvador [4:54]
  3. Things She Said [4:57]
  4. Remember My Name (Bill Bottrell/Gilbert/Leonard) [5:18]
  5. The Toy Matinee [5:02]
  6. Queen of Misery (Gilbert/Leonard) [4:31]
  7. The Ballad of Jenny Ledge (Gilbert/Leonard) [5:50] (1/19/91, 23 AR)
  8. There Was a Little Boy (Gilbert/Leonard) [5:35]
  9. We Always Come Home (Leonard) [4:29]

Songs written by Gilbert/Leonard/Pratt unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 45:44


The Players:

  • Kevin Gilbert (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
  • Patrick Leonard (keyboards, backing vocals)
  • Brian MacLeod (drums, percussion)
  • Tim Pierce (guitar)
  • Guy Pratt (bass)

Rating:

4.317 out of 5.00 (average of 10 ratings)


Quotable: A “marvelous hour or so of progressive pop music” – Duke Egbert, Daily Vault


Awards:

About the Album:

They only had one album, but it “is a gem of progressive pop and worth digging for.” DE Keyboardist, producer, and composer Patrick Leonard worked with Madonna on her True Blue through I’m Breathless albums. He approached bassist Guy Pratt, who he met while working on Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach,” WK about forming a band. They added drummer Brian MacLeod of Wire Train, guitarist Tim Pierce, and singer, lyricist and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Gilbert, who’d released two albums with the band Giraffe.

Despite the others’ contributions, Toy Matinee was promoted as a duo of Gilbert and Leonard. They crafted “polished and carefully arranged pop/rock ditties.” JV Their “clever, intelligent, rich pop music” DE ran the “gamut…from dance to rock to ballad to almost-blues.” DE

The album “starts with the layered vocals of Last Plane Out, a powerful anthem about the world and its downhill path.” DE “Like most of the band's songs, [it is] characterized by diatonic vocal harmonies, a tight rhythm section, blues guitar riffs, and a hook-heavy chorus.” JV The song grew out of Pratt’s long-time fascination with “the idea of the last flight out of a war zone.” WK

“The band's songs are mostly unique, though shades of a Pink Floyd ballad can be heard at the beginning of the band's” JV “wistful” DEself-titled track, and Steeley Dan-sounding chord progressions are undeniably present on…The Ballad of Jenny Ledge.” JV

“With Turn It on Salvador, a song dedicated to Salvador Dali and immersed in appropriately surreal lyrics, Julian Lennon chimes in with backing vocals in a section that sounds particularly Beatlesque. Sal's Clarinet Trio — Jon Clarke, Jon Kip, and Donald Markese — closes [the song] with a swinging melodic phrase that compliments Leonard's concordant piano passages.” JV

There’s also the “hauntingly sweet ballad We Always Come HomeDE alongside songs about “obsession (Things She Said)…and the pain of never quite fitting in (There Was a Little Boy).” DE There’s also Queen of Misery, which was about Madonna, with whom Leonard, Pratt, and the album’s producer, Bill Bottrell, had worked. WK

“All in all, …Toy Matinee…offers thoughtfully constructed and exceptionally played pop/rock songs alongside a number of slightly derivative songs that have a bit too much of that teased-out 1990s hair band aura.” JV However, with its “marvelous hour or so of progressive pop music, Toy Matinee is a definite winner.” DE

The group was short-lived. Pratt, who was engaged to the daughter of Pink Floyd’s Richard Wright, had a commitment to tour with that band. Leonard wasn’t interested in touring. MacLeod and Pierce moved on to other session work. Only Gibert remained, working desperately to promote the album with a newly assembled band which included guitar Marc Bonilla, bassist Spencer Campbell, drummer Toss Panos, and then-girlfriend Sheryl Crow on keyboards. No more studio efforts from Toy Matinee were released, but in 2010, Live at the Roxy was released.

Gilbert and Bottrell went on to work with Sheryl Crow on her Tuesday Night Music album and Leonard formed another one-time band, Third Matinee, with Mr. Mister frontman Richard Page. Gilbert’s death in 1996 ended any chance of another Toy Matinee album.


Notes: A rereleased Special Edition of the album included demos of “Things She Said,” “There Was a Little Boy,” “Last Plane Out,” unreleased “Blank Page,” and the odd thirty-second “Eenitam Yot Eht” (“The Toy Matinee” backwards).

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Sunday, June 10, 1990

2 Live Crew were arrested for obscenity: June 10, 1990

Originally posted June 10, 2012.

image from top40db.net

In 1989, rap group 2 Live Crew released their album As Nasty As They Wanna Be. Propelled by top 40 hit “Me So Horny,” the album went platinum. However, the American Family Association didn’t think the parental advisory sticker on the album adequately warned listeners of what they deemed obsence content. The case was presented to Florida Governor Bob Martinez to see if the album met the legal definition of obsence. At the local level, County Circuit Court judge Mel Grossman ruled there was probable cause for obsenity violations and local sherriff Nick Navarro warned record stores that selling the album might be a prosecutable offense.

Then federal district judge Jose Gonzalez ruled that the album was obsence and therefore illegal to sell. Local retailer Charles Freeman was arrested two days later after he sold a copy of the album to an undercover officer. On June 10, the group itself was arrested for performing some of the material at Club Futura after two police officers brought a tape recorder in to catch the band.

Lawyers for 2 Live Crew essentially presented a case that the first amendment protected the group’s free speech and that even though people might see the lyrics might be lewd, they were meant in jest. It didn’t help that the officers who arrested the group in the club had taped the performance but it was of such poor quality that most of it was indecipherable.

That October, a jury in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, acquitted 2 Live Crew’s Luther Campbell, Chris “Fresh Kid Ice” Wong Won, and Mark “Brother Marquis” Ross after only two hours of deliberation. They faced a year in prison. Freeman had been convicted earlier in the month but his case was overturned on appeal. It wasn’t until May 1992 that a court finally overruled the original finding that Nasty was obscene.

Banned in the U.S.A, written in response to the ordeal


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Saturday, June 9, 1990

MC Hammer’s Please Hammer album hit #1 for 1st of 20 weeks

First posted 3/27/2008; updated 11/24/2020.

Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em

M.C. Hammer


Released: February 12, 1990


Peak: 121 US, 129 RB, 8 UK, 19 CN, 5 AU


Sales (in millions): 10.1 US, 0.6 UK, 20.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: rap


Tracks:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Here Comes the Hammer (1/5/91, 54 US, 15 RB, 15 UK, 37 AU)
  2. U Can’t Touch This (4/28/90, 2a US, 1 RB, 3 UK, 8 CN, 1 AU, sales: 1.09 million)
  3. Have You Seen Her? (6/30/90, 4 US, 4 RB, 8 UK, 42 AU, gold single)
  4. Yo!! Sweetness (6/1/91, 16 UK)
  5. Help the Children (1/27/90, 12 RB)
  6. On Your Face
  7. Dancin’ Machine
  8. Pray (9/22/90, 2 US, 4 RB, 8 UK, 14 CN, 7 AU, gold single)
  9. Crime Story
  10. She’s Soft and Wet
  11. Black Is Black
  12. Let’s Go Deeper
  13. Work This


Total Running Time: 59:04

Rating:

3.146 out of 5.00 (average of 14 ratings)


Awards:

About the Album:

Please Hammer Don't Hurt ‘Em proved that rap music was no longer just a specialty niche genre, but had the crossover potential to be a commercial juggernaut.” AMG “But in an art form so conscious of preserving its integrity, this wasn’t the way to go about it – at least not from a creative standpoint. Hammer builds the majority of the songs here on obvious samples from easily recognizable soul and funk hits of the past, relying on the original hooks without twisting them into anything new (or, by implication, his own). That approach confirmed the worst fears of hip-hop purists about how the music might hit the mainstream.” AMG

“Taken on its own terms, Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em is a pretty slick – if unsubtle – pop confection. Hammer certainly has good taste in source material, if nothing else; the hits U Can’t Touch This and Pray crib from Rick James’ ‘Super Freak’ and Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry,’ respectively, and the ballad Have You Seen Her is a flat-out cover of the Chi-Lites' hit (with some updated lyrics).” AMG

“Other tracks sample Marvin Gaye, Earth, Wind & Fire, and the Jackson 5. Throughout the record, choruses are repeated ad infinitum for maximum memorability, which either makes it irresistible or irritating, depending on your taste. Hammer has improved as a rapper – his delivery is often more subtle, and he even attempts a little bit of verbal flash here and there. He still isn’t technically on a par with the average MC of the time – he’s a little too stiff, flowing awkwardly around the beat.” AMG

“Of course, his simple style also makes him easy to understand, and coupled with the highly danceable production and a great set of borrowed hooks, it’s easy to see why Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em was so popular – and why it now functions chiefly as a nostalgia piece.” AMG

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