DOLL BY DOLL
Doll By Doll - Paisley `Bungalow` - Late 1979
One of the greatest crimes against musical advancement was the media`s and the public`s persistent detachment from Doll By Doll, who in live performance were able to attain
and instill massive levels of intensity, previously (and since) unknown. Personally, I believe this was due to `hot potato` syndrome, whereby people were reluctant to become
involved in something so unpredictable and capable of inducing such radical results in a live setting. This performance saw the band at their peak, just shortly after the release of
the giant `Gypsy Blood` album.
Upon taking the stage, after parting the audience to do so, they instantly commenced with the cranking up `More Than Human`. Just as the monstrous reverberating single beat
of the bass drum signalled the commencement of the vocals, one of our party collapsed (two nights later in Edinburgh another within our company fainted at precisely the same
beat (scary but I`m led to believe not an exclusive occurence). The set was composed of material from the above release and the first album - `Remember`- every song being a
sonic assault that dragged you to the ground, kicked your head in and then lifted you by the hair to force you to witness the beauty inside the brutality through blooded eyes. By
the time that the finale (and it did feel final) of `The Palace Of Love` started I felt that the ability to move had deserted me, and was pounded without mercy to the very end of the
psychotic feedback. No band better - ever, and I have experienced a lot of music.
After four albums, several changes in personnel and a heap of media indifference, the band disintegrated and called it a day, leaving a powerful legacy for those of us who cared
and understood. It is also criminal that none of their studio albums are currently available.But, those who may have an interest should note that Jackie Leven is still producing
records with quality and original ideas within each, that most would struggle to have as much in an entire career.
Doll By Doll, a London based band formed around 1977 by Jackie Leven from Fife, have
been described as art terrorists, one of the first British bands to challenge the punk-rock
dogma, a much reviled Scottish rock & roll band, and, if they had appeared at the end of
the 1990s, pop geniuses. Jackie Leven's website (link at the bottom of the page)
describes Doll By Doll as 'a controversial live act at odds with the cartoon violence of
punk, made five critically acclaimed (or loathed) albums before accepting they just
weren't meant for those times, and regretfully going their separate ways'.
The original line up was Jackie Leven (vocals, guitar), Jo Shaw (guitar) Robin Spreafico
(bass), and David Macintosh (drums). They released one album, 'Remember' (1979) and
a single from the album 'The Palace Of Love' before Spreafico was replaced by Tony
This new lineup released released the album 'Gypsy Blood' (1979), which was described
by rock journalist Neil McCormick as the 'lost masterpiece of British rock, by the
greatest band you've never heard of'. Two singles were released from this album,
'Teenage Lightning' and 'Gypsy Blood', both of which can be heard by clicking on the
link at the bottom of the page. This lineup also recorded the third album 'Doll By Doll'
(1980) before splitting.
With regard to Doll By Doll's live shows, it has been stated that '...nobody who saw
them live is likely to quarrel with the fact that their rock intensity was anything but
overwhelming and emotionally draining'.
Having seen them live in 1978 at the Glasgow Apollo supporting Devo, I can agree with
this statement. This is further backed up by the following review of the Doll By Doll gig
at Paisley's Bungalow Bar in 1979, which was submitted to the Sunday Times by Craig
White in 2006 (kindly supplied by Mainy of El Diablo fanzine). This gig may have been
part of the group's 1979 Tick Tock Tour.
Jackie Leven was the only original member of the band left when Doll By Doll released
their fourth and final album 'Grand Passion' in 1982. The other band members and guest
musicians included Helen Turner (vocals, keyboards), Tom Norden (vocals, guitar, bass),
John Field (percussion, flute), Graham Broad (drums), and Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd
Doll By Doll split in 1982; however Leven, Shaw, Macintosh and ex-Sex Pistol Glen
Matlock released a single 'Big Tears' (1988) under the name Concrete Bulletproof
Until recently, the only Doll By Doll CD available was a live recording of the original band
at the Sheffield Limits Club in 1977, 'Revenge of Memory' (2005). However, in 2007, all
four of the band's studio albums were released for the first time on CD.
Jackie Leven continues to record. For further information click on the links at the bottom
of the page.
Listen to Teenage Lightning and Gypsy Blood