End of the Toad?

Edinburgh’s only full time record label will soon cease to exist after the release of a final Split 12″ album. This is very sad news for me as I had been introduced to the Edinburgh and wider Scottish independent music scene through the label Song, by Toad shortly after the shop opened in 2011.

Gin and Swearing with a strapline; “Because The World is WRONG About Music”.

I wrote about that a long time ago and maybe should have written more in support of the label in recent years but you know, you have kids and your life changes and the free time becomes tired “I’ll do it tomorrow time” so I have not been able to finish many different things for a few years now. Including a stock take and paying a Song, by Toad invoice which Matthew Toad has been too polite to chase up.

I have not written about many bands as such and I stopped reviewing things in the conventional sense very quickly after seeing Hawkwind at the Queen’s Hall in 2012. I wouldn’t want Hawkwind to review my shop and be offended if we did not have their records, so why should I give them a bad review if I didn’t like the gig. Everyone else, the hordes, loved it. When I have written about bands, they tend to have been “Toad Bands”, Adam Stafford, The Leg, PAWS who snuck onto a Split 12″. I discovered Edinburgh Indie royalty Meursault and who William Henry Miller was and discovered he was buried in a MASSIVE tomb near me and wrote about that.

AND the Rob St John album Weald on SBT should have won the SAY Award a few years ago but it is so hard to get heard. Adam Stafford and Meursault have been contenders for the SAY Award too and that in itself is a great achievement. The label has also built to a level where Radio 6 are now opening the emails and it is great to hear these songs played on Radio 6. “We’re playing B. Mountain today” said Lauren Laverne. A band christening themselves “Bastard Mountain” would be a challenge for commercial radio but Song, by Toad gave creative freedom to the artists and fiddlesticks to the consequences. This was a SBT supergroup and they made one of my favourite albums, Farewell, Bastard Mountain. The song they played on the radio was Drone Armatrading based around an improvised violin solo. Wonderful! There is not a video for it but here is one for the song Meadow Ghosts which is also pretty great.

I almost forgot about Honeyblood, I saw them at a gig organised by Mr Toad , became smitten and I wrote about them too.

I have written posts about Ian Humberstone who is loosely connected to the label but I never managed to finish it “Dream Rivers, Tisso Lakes” and also about “The Mysterious Siobhan Wilson” who I first saw at a Toad gig. Her album There Are No Saints was shortlisted for the Scottish Album of the Year Award. I would like to find the time to finish these some day but there is already a more recent one about Brian Wilson and a dwarf cabaret show that is nearly ready.

The Song by Toad album that has sold the most over the years is most likely Murderopolis by Sparrow and The Workshop but the band no longer exists. We have the new record by B_DY P_RTS which features their singer Jill O’Sullivan who was also in the afore-mentioned Bastard Mountain.

We have borrowed microphones, microphone stands, amplifiers and complete PA systems from Matthew Toad over the years and tried to use the annual Record Store Day as a platform for at least one band on the Song, by Toad label. Others have borrowed A Fucking VAN! from him for a tour and many touring bands have been fed and put up for the night in his house, Toad Hall.

When we had the VoxBox Vinyl show on Edinburgh student radio, we had as our theme song Don’t You Touch My Fucking Honeytone by King Post Kitch. It was a single released by Song, by Toad of course. (Our show actually restarted in October and we will try to do a SBT Special on freshair.org.uk . Tune in Wednesdays 2100-2200)

10 years and a frightfully impressive legacy encompassing a blog, podcast, band sessions, record label, poster design, gig promotion, mini festivals, recording studio and even recently the best small venue in Edinburgh. I am looking forward to the new Toad release and I am pretty sure I voted for Siobhan Wilson as my album of the year for the SAY Award this year.

Siobhan WIlson – Knee-bendingly good

Matthew Toad helped bring lots of music to my ears and I just realised that this is reading like an obituary and the label is not yet dead or even asleep. It has not yet croaked, ahem, nor joined the Choir invisible nor become an Ex-Label and so on.

So on a positive, being only just still alive note. Bloody well done old chap! I love what you have achieved and you have set an incredibly high bar for everyone and I do not think Edinburgh’s music scene will see a renegade like you for a long long time.

Just so you know, when I started our own shop label, I used the Song, by Toad guide to releasing a record as a reference. Sadly, I can’t find it online anymore so I can’t link to it but being old fashioned, I printed it out and it is filed somewhere in chaotic fashion.

Thanks for releasing the Siobhan Wilson record too. I love the way she bends her knees a little sometimes when she sings. I would have loved it to have won the SAY Award this year and it would have been an awesome cherry on the cake after 10 years of the graft. But you were right -the world is wrong about music.

Thank you Matthew.

You’ll be back though?

Dead? Or sleeping?

We will be keeping the Song, by Toad section in the shop for as long as the shop exists and there are records to fill it although we will be sourcing spare records from the individual bands. I feel the label may well be talked about in the future in the same way that Postcard Records is today. This was a huge achievement! Many years from now these records may feature in a museum exhibit… Here is a link to all of the releases. You can listen to everything for free. Dip in from time to time.

“We all love Toad don’t we Mole? the mole nodded said “yes Ratty we can never forget Toad?…”

I won’t rehash the story as there is a wonderful article about Song, by Toad by Dylan who I met and became friends with -at a Toad gig of course. Song By Toad Never Held Any Lofty Ambition To Be The Biggest Of Labels.

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