J.R. Jones | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

J.R. Jones 

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TOY DOLLS

These blithering idiots from the UK have been at it since 1979, seemingly unaware that punk rock has come and gone--and come and gone again. By the time the band got its first gig, in the northeastern town of Durham, the first wave of British punks had already been deified by the left-wing press, commodified by the record business, and robbed of the fuck-all fun that powered the music in the first place. But the Toy Dolls, stuck at the bottom after a brief fling with EMI, were less interested in hanging the queen than hanging out at the pub, where they wrote aggressively stupid songs like "Nellie the Elephant," "Spiders in the Dressing Room," and "I've Got Asthma." Over the years the band--an ever-shifting lineup anchored by frog-voiced guitarist Olga (Michael Algar)--has racked up a dozen singles, nine original albums, three collections, and a live set, but the rip-roaring One More Megabyte, on California indie Rotten, is its first U.S. release. Whether tearing through ultramelodic rave-ups like "She'll Be Back With Keith Someday," leading football-club sing-alongs like "Bachelor Boy/When Garry Married Melanie," or giving wimpy pop a furious kick in the arse--specifically the Proclaimers' "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)"--the Toy Dolls seem eager to prolong their youthful insanity until they can escape into senile dementia. Of course, this foolishness would be downright irritating if the players weren't pistol hot: "Me 'n' John Williams" may begin like a skit from Sesame Street, but what follows is a guitar duel whose cross fire could knock off Eddie Van Halen. Reports from the road have Olga popping out of a box dressed as a harlequin, and if One More Megabyte is any indication, no one will be able to push him back in. This is the band's Chicago debut; Guttermouth opens. Friday, 6:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. J.R. JONES

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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