Record Collector Magazine #477 March 2018 28 February 2018
Mabel Greer’s Toyshop are well-known to Yes fans as the musical cocoon (try saying that after a stiff drink) from which the prog giants emerged. Founder members Clive Bayley (vocals/guitar) and Bob Hagger (drums) reconnected after guitarist Peter Banks’ passing in 2013, and issued New Way Of Life (2015), a mix of original-era material and new songs, featuring Yes men Billy Sherwood and Tony Kaye.
The Secret, with a posthumous appearance from Banks the only cameo, raises the question of whether Bayley and Hagger, with new members Max Hunt (keys) and Hugo Barr (bass), can deliver a full album of valid new music. With no pun intended, the answer is “yes.”
The modern-day Mabel’s sound couches Bayley’s lower-register vocals, not unlike Justin Hayward (The Moody Blues) or John Wetton (ASIA), in classic prog guitar and keyboard tones, taking nine strong songs as the basis for extended, intricately layered arrangements (the elaborate Love’s Fire, Swan, and More And More’s psych-folk-blues hybrid), guitars are sometimes a little busy around the vocals, but interlocking convincingly.
Though not a concept album, The Secret makes for an engrossing end-to-end listen from a band with something worthwhile to offer, irrespective of their family tree.
Hagger Bayley Music | MGTCD 2 (CD) Reviewed by Rich Davenport
Monday, June 27, 2022 9:43 AM
Mabel Greer's Toyshop morphed into YES with their first official gig as a band named "YES" on August 3, 1968 at East Mersea Youth Camp, Essex.
For about a month prior to the "YES" debut, Peter Banks left Mabel Greer's Toyshop and joined the then skinhead band Neat Change.
The first two photos above by Sylvia Pitcher of Neat Change in July 1968 in the park feature them in their "skinhead" mode. Then they go through a magical hair and clothing transformation to a more pop sensibility for the cover to their DECCA single "I Lied To Auntie May" / "Sandman" (July 1968). It's the exact same lineup pictured in all 3 Neat Change band photos above, although it is most likely that Peter Banks didn't play for the recording of the single.
Then after only being in Neat Change for a few weeks, Peter Banks was out. He comes back to the transforming Mabel Greer's Toyshop/YES.
Peter Banks was in the Neat Change lineup for two gigs, both at Marquee Club London in July 1968: July 6 and July 13.