Cherry Red Records have released yet another box set, this time devoted to the career of singer/songwriter Lene Lovich. The set, The Toy Box, is an impressive four disc collection featuring three different albums. As to be expected with Cherry Red Records releases, the albums are newly remastered with a handful of bonus tracks. The Toy Box is a great set of music and should keep music buffs satisfied.
A Little History
Born Lili-Marlene Premilovich in 1949, Lene Lovich would get her start in music at a young age. At the age of 13, Lovich met guitarist and future life partner Les Chappell. For the next few years, the two would work together on various projects. On top of that, Lovich would find work near the London Underground, workings as a dancer and performer. By 1978, Lovich was signed to Stiff Records.
This set comes with three different albums, which are also Lovich’s first three albums. One of the four discs is a remix of Stateless, which was the version released in the US.
Given that this is a box set of albums, I’ll be writing this review album by album.
Lovich hits the ground running with her debut album. Throughout Stateless‘ 11 tracks are a unique mix of of quirky new wave tunes. Some songs have a punk rock edge to them while others are surprisingly soulful and reminiscent of 1960s girl groups.
This set features both the original mix and the remix. Between the two, the original mix sounds more natural while the remix sounds slightly amplified and reverberated. Which ever version you listen to, this might be Lovich at her best.
Favorite Songs: Lucky Number, Tonight, Too Tender, One in a 1,000,000, Home, Say When
Album rating: 7/10
Released a year later, Flex is an album that’s firmly rooted in new wave. The soulful aspects of Stateless are missing but Flex is an enjoyable album. Lovich’s singing has more inflections, which might not be for all listeners but it sounds like she’s having fun with it. As a whole, Flex is a solid album.
Favorite Songs: What Would I Do Without You, Monkey Talk, Bird Song, You Can’t Kill Me, Joan
Album rating: 7/10
No Man’s Land (1982)
Lovich’s third outing is another new wave offering, albeit more cemented in the MTV generation. Compared to the first two albums, No Man’s Land is a synth oriented. This works for some songs more than others. If anything, the songs on here aren’t as memorable as the ones on the first two.
Favorite Songs: Blue Hotel, Sister Video, It’s You Only, Special Star, Maria
Album rating: 6/10
Bonus tracks and extras
Each of the four discs in this set have bonus tracks. These tracks include alternate takes, extended versions and single only tracks. EPs, such as the New Toy EP, are also included on here. Along with the music, The Toy Box comes with a 24 page booklet. Some of the liner notes are written by Ms. Lovich herself, which is unique for a release like this.
Overall, The Toy Box is the ultimate collection of Lene Lovich music. While this album does not feature her fourth and fifth albums (1989’s March and 2005’s Shadows and Dust), this makes for a good introduction to Lovich’s career. With the addition of the bonus tracks and liner notes, The Toy Box is the quintessential release devoted to Lene Lovich.
Overall rating: 8/10
I'm a writer/journalist with a passion for music and pop culture. Having graduated from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 2014, I've been looking for a platform in which I can share my passions. Since 2009, I've been posting to my own blog- The Walrus' Music Blog- via Blogger. I'm also the author of two self-published books, "The Camp: Stories from the Summer" and "The College: Stories from King's." Together, the two books cover the story of my life from 2004 to 2014. I've been lucky enough to interview several of my favorite musicians over the years and go to concerts from time to time. I'm also very devoted to the CBS reality TV show Survivor, which I started watching in 2002 when its fourth season started. I currently live in New Jersey.