The following is a bit of memorabilia from Russ’ music days in the early eighties. He was in a band with four other fellows called Toys (not, the Toys, I am reminded).They were debuting at the coveted Camden (London) nightspot, Dingwalls. Opening for them was The Messengers and representatives from EMI, CBS, Sire and Chrysalis record companies were in the audience.

Here’s the article transcribed:

South Wales Argus, Thursday, October 30, 1980

The congregation had never seen anything like it. There was young Barry Evans playing the gentle strains of Bach on the Llanfoist church organ at Sunday morning service, with his hair a multi-coloured sensation of gold, marmalade and bright yellow strands.

Forty hours later the same dazzling locks were rocking under the lights of one of London’s top clubs. This was the big time as two of Gwent’s liveliest bands made their big city debuts in an effort to woo the record companies at Dingwalls Club on Monday night.Church and rock organist Barry Evans, 21, of Homeleigh, Bryn, Abergavenny, is one of the five piece Toys, who hope to bring back glamour to pop and find a place among the stars. Sporting their spectacular hairstyles and wearing gaudy bright smocks, the father of “Glam Rock” Gary Glitter would have been proud of them.

Their guests were the explosive trio from Newport The Messengers, who came on first and presented a powerful sixty minute spot highlighted by impressive self-penned tunes. They were both cheered and applauded by more than fifty Gwent fans who had travelled up with the bands on a special coach.

Newport, Wales Band, Toys, During a Live Performance at Dingwalls in Camden, London – October 20, 1980 Two members of one of Gwent’s other top bands, Prefectors drummer Martin Ford and Michael Morgan, who recently rejoined them, had hitch-hiked up specially to catch the show. Also there were mum and dad Wilmott of Clydach Close, Bettws, Newport, who were up with son Gareth and other members of the Wilmott family to cheer their youngest son Nigel who plays drums for Toys.

In order to see his son Arthur, Wilmott had given up a special musical performance of his own – singing as a second tenor with Newport Male Voice Choir for the touring New Zealanders at Newport Athletic Club. “When he was seven we were at a holiday camp show and Nigel sat watching the drummer all night long. Since then he has been playing anything – he’s drum mad, ” said Arthur, the branch manager of a newport electrical firm.

“He used to hit hell out of the settee.”

The Toys’ set went like clockwork. The representatives from EMI, CBS, Sire and Chrysalis record companies must have been impressed by their instantly likeable tunes and glittering appearances. Singer Wayne Davies 18, of Livale Court, Bettws, has boyish good looks similar to seventies heartthrob Dave Cassidy, which give the appeal that can tip the balance between chart success and failure.

Their songs, written by guitarist Steve Dumayne, 22, of Howe Circle, Newport, and bassist Russell Thomas, 23, of Broadwood Close, Newport, include several potential hit singles – Media Man and Teenage Fiasco particularly stood out.

Promoter Dennis Detheridge of Abergavenny rocketed XTC to international fame three years ago. He believes he can do the same for Toys.

“They have been concentrating on rehearsing for the last 18 months with the odd local gig. They know they have got it together. They did not want to come to London before they were ready – now the time is right.”

“They are very confident but that does not mean they have not got butterflies in their stomachs. Obviously, their hopes are built up,” he said, just before they went on stage.

Nerves certainly had their effect on the Messengers. In their first number guitarist Jeff Ross dropped his plectrum and drummer Graham Woods’ drumstick flew from his hand.

They need not have worried, they are a very good band with one or two excellent songs.

Jeff, of Caerleon Road, Newport, writes their material with bassist Richard Parfitt of Chepstow Road, Newport. They have a three track tape of their music, recorded at Tredunnock which are touting around the record companies.

“You’ve heard of Lennon and McCartney and Rodgers and Hammerstein, well now there’s Ross and Parfitt,” said Richard showing the bubbling confidence that runs through the band.

Their reggae tempo Slow Death is really first class. Top group, The Police, would be proud of it.

We are a brilliant band and will make it or die,” said Richard after their set.

Having seen both groups on Monday night in that trendy Camden Town nightspot, I am convinced they can both make it.

Toys in the money-spinning world of singles success and Messengers, by building up a strong following around the colleges and clubs and developing a full set of self-penned songs for an album.


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