Sheep Farming in Barnet is the debut release by Toyah, fronted by Toyah Willcox, released in 1979 by Safari Records. The album was originally released as a 6-track extended EP, dubbed an ‘Alternate Play’ record (AP) by Safari, and was later expanded into full-album status.
The album was later reissued on CD, cassette and white vinyl by Great Expectations in 1990 (As PIPCD 014), and again on CD by Safari themselves in 2002, this time digitally remastered and coupled with the band’s second album, The Blue Meaning.
The album was produced by Steve James and future band member Keith Hale, and was released as an AP on 3 August 1979, with the album version following in February 1980. The album was originally compiled by the band’s German record label, EMI Electrola, but importation of the disc was so widespread, Safari decided to cash in and follow suit. The tracks added included several songs which did not make the original tracklisting and the debut single “Victims of the Riddle” (originally released in July 1979), plus its b-side “Victims of the Riddle (Vivisection)”. The album’s title refers to sheep being seen in a field in Finchley just off Regent’s Park Road. According to John Craig of Safari, the cover featured Toyah at the RAF Fylingdales radar station near Whitby in Yorkshire, “a shoot achieved with considerable difficulty as, quite predictably, guards chased Toyah and the crew from the high security site”.
- Cherry Red Records released deluxe editions in 2020 remastered by Nick Watson from the original mastertapes with mastering approved by Joel Bogen.
- The expanded 2CD+DVD edition, compiled by Craig Astley, features 30 bonus tracks and is made up of non-album singles, rarities and demos. Amongst the 20 previously unreleased tracks are versions originally recorded for Shoestring, the original improvisation vocal that became Victims of The Riddle and the band’s first ever pre-signing 1978 demos.
- Includes a sleevenote by Toyah’s archivist Craig Astley, researched with input from co-writer/guitarist Joel Bogen, chronicles the creation of the album, musician line-ups and reveals the recording origins of the album and bonus material for the first time.
- The package includes a DVD (NTSC/Region Free) containing two brand new features with Toyah Willcox; ‘The Story Behind The Album’ is an in-depth interview about the album/period, a Track-by-Track Album Commentary interview plus an exclusive acoustic three-song session of songs from the era – all filmed August 2020.
- The DVD also includes rare archive TV footage available on DVD for the first time ever including a 1979 interview/performance clips of Race Through Spacefilmed at Toyah’s Battersea warehouse ‘Mayhem’ for broadcast on What’s On (ITV Midlands-only region) and two songs, Danced, Indecision, filmed February 1980 for BBC’s The Old Grey Whistle Test.