Recorded: 2000–2001
Producers: David Bowie, Mark Plati

Unreleased

Personnel

  • David Bowie: vocals, keyboards, stylophone, mandolin
  • Earl Slick, Gerry Leonard: guitar
  • Mark Plati: guitar, bass guitar
  • Gail Ann Dorsey: bass guitar
  • Mike Garson: keyboards
  • Sterling Campbell: drums
  • Lisa Germano: violin, recorder, mandolin, accordion
  • Cuong Vu: trumpet
  • Holly Palmer, Emm Gryner: backing vocals
  • Tony Visconti: string arrangements

Tracklisting (leaked version)

  • ‘Uncle Floyd’
  • ‘Afraid’
  • ‘Baby Loves That Way’
  • ‘I Dig Everything’
  • ‘Conversation Piece’
  • ‘Let Me Sleep Beside You’
  • ‘Toy (Your Turn To Drive)’
  • ‘Hole In The Ground’
  • ‘Shadow Man’
  • ‘In The Heat Of The Morning’
  • ‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’
  • ‘Silly Boy Blue’
  • ‘Liza Jane’
  • ‘The London Boys’

Recorded by David Bowie in 2000, Toy contained a mixture of new songs and re-recorded older compositions. It was planned for release in 2001, but mostly remained officially unavailable during Bowie’s lifetime.

Bowie had begun to revisit his back catalogue of compositions during the mid to late 1990s. What prompted this period of nostalgia is not known, but it led to a number of his early songs being recorded during the Toy project.

The songs are so alive and full of colour, they jump out of the speakers. It’s really hard to believe that they were written so long ago.
David Bowie
BowieNet, 1 January 2001

In January 1997, Bowie revived ‘The London Boys’ during the acoustic rehearsal for the BBC Radio 1 show ChangesNowBowie. He performed the song again in June 2000 at New York’s Roseland Ballroom, along with ‘I Dig Everything’.

During a 1997 show in San Francisco he unexpectedly sang a snippet of the 1966 song ‘Can’t Help Thinking About Me’. It was revived more fully during his VH1 Storytellers appearance in August 1999, and became one of the songs recorded for Toy.

Toy album was produced by Mark Plati, and intended for release in 2001, but reluctance from his label EMI/Virgin meant it was shelved.

I’m finding EMI/Virgin seem to have a lot of scheduling conflicts this year, which has put an awful lot on the back burner. Toy is finished and ready to go, and I will make an announcement as soon as I get a very real date. Meantime, I’m already started writing and recording for another album (untitled at the moment). So far I have to say it’s back to experimental. But knowing me, it doesn’t mean that’s how it’ll turn out. I shall be writing and recording throughout the summer, but daddyfying is really my priority at the moment.
David Bowie
BowieNet webchat, 4 June 2001

This, coupled with Virgin’s rejection of the live and remix collection liveandwell.com in 1998, led to Bowie’s break with the label prior to the release of 2002’s Heathen.