Produced by Steve James
1980 UK LP: Safari Records / IEYA666
1980 UK cassette: Safari Records / CIEYA666
1980 Australia 2-LP: Safari/Polygram / 2679 086 (bundled with ‘Sheep Farming In Barnet’)
1990 UK Reissue LP/MC/CD: Great Expectations / PIP LP/MC/CD 015
2002 UK CD: Safari Records / VOORCD 4002 (bundled with ‘Sheep Farming In Barnet’)*
Available digitally: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
* 2002 reissue CD and digital editions feature Sphinx and Street Addict as bonus tracks.
These originally appeared on Flexipop (FLX215) and Thunder In The Mountains (SAFE38)
The Blue Meaning is the second album by Toyah, released in 1980 by Safari Records. Although not the first full-length release, this is often considered to be the band’s first “proper” album. The album saw a band line-up change and was supported by a tour which was documented in the 1980 profile documentary ‘Toyah’ for the ATV network. The album contains one of Toyah’s most famous songs Ieya which was released as a single in shorter edited faded form and later re-recorded in 1982. A longer version of Spaced Walking appeared as the b-side of the Ieya single. It did not appear on CD until The Safari Records Singles Collection: Part One 1979-1981 compilation was released in 2005.
It saw its first release on CD in 1990 on the Great Expectations label along with new versions on cassette and a blue coloured vinyl. It appeared twice in a double album package bundled with the previous full-length release, Sheep Farming In Barnet. This appeared in vinyl format in Australia in 1980 as ‘2 albums for the price of 1. It was reissued in a double-CD package with Sheep Farming in Barnet in 2002 to co-incide with Toyah’s appearance on the Here & Now Tour. The latter release was remastered and included two bonus tracks which both hail from later releases.
TOYAH ON THE BLUE MEANING….
The main song on The Blue Meaning was ‘IEYA’. This song already had a remarkable history. I’ve always believed that music is a universal language and if I was asked to define God, I’d say God is music. Music transcends everything. It’s the most wonderful form of communication and proof of the existence of God. And really good music makes you transcend your natural state; it helps you evolve. The glory of punk was that it brought music down to a level where young people could find their identity, find their feet and become confident.
‘IEYA’ started off as a jam, a jam on stage. Some months before, we’d been playing Bath, where we had a hall full of two thousand rioting kids. The show itself had gone phenomenally well, and as usual in those days we hit the fourth encore and we’d run out of music. What we used to do was repeat a song called ‘Danced’, about the second coming of Christ, which would slowly build layer upon layer of sound, encouraging the audience to dance and dance and dance almost into a hypnotic state. Well, at Bath we had a lot of trouble with the National Front. A lot of my band were Jewish, and we all found it particularly offensive that the NF would recruit at concerts – they’d go around the audience intimidating the youngest, the smallest, the scrawniest boys into joining the NE By the end of this concert in Bath, the NF were chanting ‘Sieg heil’ at the back. Charlie Francis, our bass-player, found this intolerable, and Joel kept taking his guitar off to go and beat them up, which we all had to stop him from doing. Instead we just shouted back ‘Nazi scum’ and got the audience to chant ‘Nazi scum’.
For the fourth encore, all we could think of doing was something that had started as a jam in the sound-check that day, which was ‘IEYA’. It was a sequence of chords that grew, so every verse had more chords added to it, and it had a fantastically simple chorus, a chant, ‘IEYA’. ‘IEYA, I am solar, IEYA I’m the beast.’ I have a habit of writing about extreme opposites: I often write about Christ and Christianity in hidden forms, and then the next day I’ll write about the Devil and mankind. ‘IEYA’ is about mankind believing in ourselves so much that we believe we are immortal and can become our own gods, therefore challenging God as the Devil, in the form of the Devil; man being the beast. So we walked on stage and started ‘IEYA’, and within the first sixteen bars the audience was behaving in a way I’d never seen before. And because ‘IEYA’ had no real form, we’d only ever jammed it, what should have been a four-minute song went on for twenty minutes, and the audience didn’t stop dancing once, and I just kept making up words as I went along. At the end of the concert the NF were so incensed that the police were called and had to get us out via the Gents window at the back and into a police van, because the NF were outside, kicking in cars, waiting for us at the stage door to kick our heads in. A full-blown riot was in progress.
When we started to record ‘IEYA’ in the studio in Battle, we had to put it into a digestible form and decide how long it was going to be. It turned out to be seven minutes long, which is longer than any average song. But the atmosphere in the studio became terrifying. Just like when The Exorcist was made, things started going wrong. Technical equipment wouldn’t work, arguments would start out of nowhere, distrust would enter the studio, and I had a severe problem with writing seven minutes’ worth of lyrics in what was a repetitive song. It took days for me to record the vocals. It was a multi-layered song, and the chorus had many voices – all mine. But doing the verses was murder. I hadn’t quite learned by this time that the simpler I kept the subject matter and the simpler I kept the phrasing and the words, the more effective the song would be. I always wanted to make things over-complex to try and prove myself.
Eventually, after many frustrating late nights in the studio, the song was put down and we sent it back to London for Safari to hear. Safari loved it so much they played it over and over again in their office and decided it should be a single. On about the twentieth play in one day, a man appeared at the door of Safari records with a knife, grabbed Tony Edwards by the throat and said he would kill him if he ever heard that song again. Thus began the legend of ‘IEYA’ – the song that could turn any concert into a riot. It was just an incredibly powerful song. The question is, did we write it or did it come to us from somewhere else?
(c) Toyah Willcox. Extract from Living Out Loud (2000)