Toy Matinee was a short-lived American rock band, and also the title of their only album. Their sound was an array of mixed influences, including progressive rock, AOR and pop reminiscent of both the Beatles and the Beach Boys.
Toy Matinee was formed by producer/composer/keyboardist Patrick Leonard in collaboration with singer/lyricist/multi-instrumentalist Kevin Gilbert. Backed by a group of session musicians (drummer Brian MacLeod, guitarist Tim Pierce, and bassist Guy Pratt), and with guest appearances from several other musicians including Julian Lennon, the duo recorded just one self-titled album which was released on Reprise Records in 1990.
The album was engineered and produced by Bill Bottrell. Thematically, it covered a rather broad ground. Two tracks were dedicated to Czech poet and political figure Václav Havel and painter Salvador Dalí, while “Queen of Misery” is about Madonna Leonard was the singer’s longtime songwriting and producing partner, and in addition to him most members of Toy Matinee worked on Madonna’s I’m Breathless album—Gilbert as an engineer, Bottrell as producer and engineer, Pratt on bass, and Pierce on guitar.
After the album was released, session musicians Pratt, MacLeod and Pierce moved on to other work, and Leonard wasn’t interested in a tour that involved replacing all of them. Gilbert took on that role himself instead, assembling a promotional band for the album which featured Gilbert’s then girlfriend, Sheryl Crow, on keyboards, Toss Panos on drums and Marc Bonilla on guitar. A 1991 live recording of Gilbert and this touring band performing songs from the album was released in 2010 as Kevin Gilbert Performs Toy Matinee Live at the Roxy. The group engaged in heavy radio promotion wherever possible, most notably frequent appearances on the Mark & Brian show on Los Angeles-area station KLOS. Some of those sessions were released on Mark & Brian’s KLOS compilation recordings such as a stripped down version of “The Ballad Of Jenny Ledge” on their You Had to Be There collection.
Two of the songs on Toy Matinee — “The Ballad of Jenny Ledge” and “Last Plane Out”—received wide play on AOR stations partly due to Gilbert’s promotional work, both of them peaking at No. 23 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Despite the chart success of the singles, the album’s highest U.S. chart position was No. 129, and sales were below expectations enough that many unsold copies of the CD were widely available as cut-outs in the early ’90s.
Gilbert went on to do additional work with Bottrell including Sheryl Crow’s debut album and solo projects. In 1994, Leonard and former Mr. Mister frontman Richard Page released the album Meanwhile as Third Matinee. Gilbert’s untimely death in 1996 ended any possibility of a second Toy Matinee album.
1. “Last Plane Out” (Kevin Gilbert, Patrick Leonard, Guy Pratt) – 5:13
2. “Turn It On Salvador” (Gilbert, Leonard, Pratt) – 4:54 (a tribute to painter Salvador Dalí)
3. “Things She Said” (Gilbert, Leonard, Pratt) – 4:57
4. “Remember My Name” – 5:19 (loosely dedicated to Václav Havel)
5. “The Toy Matinee” (Gilbert, Leonard, Pratt) – 5:02
6. “Queen Of Misery” (Gilbert, Leonard) – 4:31
7. “The Ballad Of Jenny Ledge” (Gilbert, Leonard) – 5:50
8. “There Was A Little Boy” (Gilbert, Leonard) – 5:35
9. “We Always Come Home” (Leonard) – 4:29
10. “eenitaM yoT ehT” (Gilbert, Leonard) – 0:33
11. “Blank Page” (Gilbert) – 2:23
12. “Things She Said” [alternate version] (Gilbert, Leonard) – 5:13
13. “There Was A Little Boy” [early version] (Gilbert, Leonard) – 4:15
14. “Last Plane Out” [early version] (Gilbert, Leonard, Pratt) – 5:35
- Guest musicians
- Julian Lennon
- Sal’s Clarinet Trio: Jon Clarke, Jon Kip, Donald Markese
Released: 28 June 1990
Genre: Progressive rock
Label – Reprise Records