Toni Halliday: Hearts and Handshakes

tonihalliday_hearts

Format: LP

Label: WTG Records

Country: UK

Year: 1989

Price paid: $1.50

Purchased at: Books and Melodies, Syracuse NY

 

‘Cause who would have thought this could happen to us?

We carry the flags of the future we trust

Toni Halliday had been active in the UK music scene since the late 70’s with such bands as Photofitz (formerly Incest), Bonk, and The Uncles. She also provided backing vocals for artists such as Robert Plant during this period. In 1985 she formed the group ‘State of Play’ with Dean Garcia, Garcia’s wife Julie Fletcher, and Eurythmics’ drummer Olle Romo.

With ‘Hearts and Handshakes’, her first solo venture, all the pieces are there… but she had yet to find a true focus. Much of the album comes across as competent doodling and sounds rather dated, employing many tropes used by other bands at the time such as an overreliance on synth drum tracks. At best the album is slightly above average mainstream rock performed by an artist just waiting to burst.

The one exception is ‘Time Turns Around.’ An amazing track, why it never became a hit is beyond me-

The album and its four singles ‘Time Turns Around’, ‘Love Attraction’, ‘Weekday’, and ‘Woman in Mind’ all failed to chart. Shortly after the album’s release Toni, along with Dean Garcia, would go on to form the highly successful and influential 90’s indie group Curve.

The cover art reminds me a lot of Danielle Dax sleeve art from the period, dark and moody with more than a hint of danger hiding in the shadows. The design is credited to Laurence Stevens; upon looking him up I found that he’d done much art design for music including Shakespears Sister and Morrissey. He’s also responsible for practically all of the design/art direction for the Eurythmics’ (including Annie’s solo work), dating all the way back to their first release in 1980.

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