Mabel Greer’s Toyshop, “Electric Funeral” from New Way Of Life (2015): One Track Mind

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In an intriguing twist, the rebuilt Mabel Greer’s Toyshop now includes — just as it did in 1967 — two members associated with Yes. Only, it’s not the same two members.

Back then, this psychedelic precursor band featured Chris Squire and the late Peter Banks, both of whom would later serve as co-founders of Yes. Today, stalwart MGT members Chris Bayley and Bob Hagger are joined by Billy Sherwood and Tony Kaye, the latter of whom actually joined future Yes frontman Jon Anderson in a very late edition of Mabel Greer’s Toyshop in ’68.

Together, they’re helping to realize a dream long deferred for Bayley, MGT’s composer, vocalist and guitarist, and long-time bandmate drummer Bob Hagger. Their first song, the opener from the forthcoming New Way Of Life, moves with a narrative force from the spectral toward the muscular, fleshing out the band’s initial Summer of Love amalgam of influences. If anything, this is something in between what we’ve come to understand about both Yes and Mabel Greer’s Toyshop, in particular in the way this song expands on its basic template of mathematical structures, bucolic harmonies and cumulus guitar.

Of particular note is Kaye’s muscular guest organ work. He was, of course, Yes’ original keyboardist, and returned for another stint in the 1980s and ’90s. That’s how he crossed paths with Sherwood, a 1990s-era product who subsequently launched Circa with Kaye. Mabel Greer’s Toyshop is rounded out by Hugo Barre. The group offers remakes of both “Beyond and Before” as well as “Sweetness,” from Yes’ 1969 self-titled debut. Bayley and Squire composed the former, while Bayley, Squire and Anderson wrote the latter. The other original material on New Way Of Life — due March 9, 2015 — was primarily composed by Bayley.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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