Saturday, November 26, 2022

Fad Gadget: Gag 1984


Francis John Tovey (8 September 1956 – 3 April 2002), known also by his stage name Fad Gadget,

was a British avant-garde electronic musician and vocalist. He was a proponent of both new wave and early industrial music, fusing pop-structured songs with mechanised experimentation.

As Fad Gadget, his music was characterised by the use of synthesizers in conjunction with sounds of

found objects, including drills and electric razors. His bleak, sarcastic and darkly humorous lyrics were filled with biting social commentary toward subjects such as machinery, industrialisation, consumerism, human sexuality, mass media, religion, domestic violence and dehumanization, often sung in a deadpan voice.

For all intents and purposes, Frank Tovey was best known as the man behind Fad Gadget, one of the

most significant cult acts of the post-punk boom. As Fad Gadget, Tovey and his revolving door of conspirators released several singles and four full-length albums that stretched the boundaries of pop music during the late '70s and early '80s. And after Tovey started making records under his own name in the mid-'80s, he continued to remain as unpredictable as ever, working within the realms of Cajun, blues, and folk, in addition to furthering his journey into experimental electronics.

Humorous, dark, strange, puzzling, wild, honest, confrontational -- these adjectives exemplify Tovey's lengthy body of work and his legacy of daringly physical performances. (Tovey's stage antics included

numerous acrobatic feats and a penchant for shaving his copiously foamed body.) While Fad Gadget's contemporaries included the likes of Cabaret Voltaire, the Human League, Wire, the Normal, and Soft Cell, Tovey and company's records never quite achieved the underground notoriety or the chart success enjoyed by his peers. Regardless of the level of recognition, Tovey's unique contribution to electronic music is undeniable, and so is his influence upon it. As the years go on, the recognition continues to gather steam.

Tovey made his first public appearance as Fad Gadget in July of 1979. Two months after that, the first

Fad Gadget single, The Box, was issued.  Fireside Favourites, was released by the end of 1980. While Tovey did the lion's share of synth work on the album, percussionist John Fryer, bassist/guitarist Eric Radcliffe, drummer Nick Cash, and synthesist Miller chipped in with contributions. The albums Under the Flag and Gag were released in 1982 and 1984, respectively.

The move into dance and soul-influenced territories -- along with relatively traditional production values for the time -- resulted in lighter and less urgent music, but Tovey's lyrics steadfastly refused to

approach anything resembling mundane or fantasy-based. Tovey was more likely to be compared to Bob Dylan than Gary Numan, as his lyrics favored the everyman over machines and aliens. Personnel-wise, Under the Flag featured guest vocal turns and saxophone blurts from Alison Moyet (Yaz), and Gag included some guitar work from Rowland S. Howard (the Birthday Party).

In his later years, Gadget began to perform at festivals and also supported his former colleagues and

Mute label-mates, Depeche Mode, on their European tour. He was working on a new album at the time of his death. Fad Gadget suffered from heart problems since childhood, and died of a heart attack on 3 April 2002 at the age of 45. In 2006, with the Pyros and family, he has two movies dedicated to him, Fad Gadget by Frank Tovey and Grand Union: A Documentary.


His album Gag was ranked #76 in Treblezine's list of "The Top 100 Best Post-Punk Albums".

Fad Gadget – Gag
Label: Mute – CDSTUMM15
Format:    CD, Album, Reissue
Country: UK
Released: 1991   
Genre: Electronic, Rock
Style: New Wave, Electro, Experimental



Ideal World  (Guitar – Rowland S. Howard)   5:39
02. Collapsing New People  (Producer – Daniel Miller)   4:22
03. Sleep  (Vocals – Morgan Tovey-Frost)   3:25
04. Stand Up    3:30
05. Speak To Me    3:23
06. One Man's Meat    4:06
07. The Ring    3:53
08. Jump      4:09
09. Ad Nauseam  (Guitar – Rowland S. Howard)   6:32

Double Bass, Guitar, Synthesizer [Bass] – Dave Rogers
Piano, Synthesizer, Organ, Celesta, Marimba, Performer [Tuned Bottles] – David Simmonds
Producer – Frank Tovey, Gareth Jones
Vocals – Barbara Frost, Frank Tovey
Voice, Viola – Joni Sackett



Tarred and feathered like a gutted chicken
Stuck in a rut out of luck Ad Nauseam
Sew up my lips and cut my throat
I choke on the gag but I don't get the joke

Spineless and fish-like, I swim in the mire
I swear like a saw-tooth, fin-flap and gill
Scrap this ludicrous chain of events
Tear away from book-form and screen-time

Scream 'till I hoarse and strapped to my carriage
I bite on the bit of spittle and white bait
Cloven hooved I scratch at my thorax
Yelling I loathe you and smelling a rat
The price that I paid in suicide notes
Sighing and screwing and fucking about
Name a disease that's not out to tease me
Spike through the tongue and eyeballs are razored

Snap your teeth on concrete and order
Don't say what you feel if it stinks of disorder
So tell me that you hate me
And I will feel good
The price that I pay is measured in years
Sucker on the exhaust of crime lights
So sew up my mouth and then slit my throat
I choke on the gag but I don't get the joke


Tarred and feathered like a gutted chicken
Stuck in a rut out of luck Ad Nauseam



Sew up my lips and cut my throat
I choke on the gag but I don't get the joke

Spineless and fish like, I swim in the mire
I swear like a saw tooth, fin-flap and gill
Scrap this ludicrous chain of events
Tear away from book-form and screen-time

So tell me that you hate me
And I will feel so good
Sew up my mouth and then slit my throat
I choke on the gag but I don't get the joke

Sucker on the exhaust of crime lights
Sucker on the exhaust of crime lights

Sew up my mouth and then slit my throat
I choke on the gag but I don't get the joke

MP3 @ 320 Size: 92 MB
Flac  Size: 260 MB

Fad Gadget: Incontinent  on Urban Aspirines HERE


  1. Totally new to me!!! Thanks for the discovery!

  2. I remember when i still went to a lot of concerts in the early 80's and i saw very good bands live in the U4 ( a really good underground disco at the time, by far the best in Vienna) i often hours listening to this sythie music, starting with Depeche Mode, Human League or Fad Gadget had to endure until the band performed. Horrible for me.
    Il Commendatore amazing what you don't know. Either you're so young, which is forgivable, or you don't take the initiative to get to know band yourself.

  3. In the U4 mainly saw German bands like 39 Clocks, Kastrierte Philosophen, Shiny Gnomes etc...

  4. And there were maybe 50 people in adendance. Many more people didn't go in.
    The bands played at eye level with the audience. Maybe half a meter above the dance floor and that was great.

    1. Josef I always find your narration fascinating. I wonder, have you ever had a professional connection with music, like being a radio host? And have you ever considered writing a book about your experiences?

    2. Anonymous thank you for your interest and appreciate words. No i have never made a profit from my knowledge anywhere be it in music, philosophy or literature. That is not my strength. What carries me is the love and passion for these things. I'm a pure autodidact everywhere and have always done this for their own sake and never attached a job, money or career to it.
      My luck with the music is that i was there from the beginning, so to speak, and i always grew with the respective changes and i was strongly involted everywhere. And a result i had many contacts and experiences and have seen a lot.

    3. Another word about U4 because it is so typical for the music scene. The location was opened in may 1980. The music that was made there live or as a discotheque was strongly influenced by english punk/new wave. There were always bands that were known later or at the time. Although the place was so small and was no profit to be made from it, it was famous for its unusualness. The city has also considered closing the location due to "seduction of the youth". Sometimes around 1983, however a change occurred. Commerce has discovered the scene. The audience changed, the music also everything went down the drain for my taste and the scene was broken and there in the summer 1983 i lost interest. I was never there again.
      Although the discotheque still exists today, only under different circumstances. But that is another story.

    4. There is a photo with the very good Austrian post punk band HOTEL MORPHILA ORCHESTER taken at the U4. You can clearly see the U4 in the background. You only have to enter the name of the band. It is then the second photo.

    5. I guess this is the photo you're talking about ? I can understand the atmosphere of the place, being virtually among the band. And I'm surprised about the city council trying to close down the place, I thought that in those parts of the world such a scene thrived. But as you noted, perhaps the scene thrived when there was a commercial interest in it and not when it was just for the sake of music. Or maybe things were vastly different in Austria compared to Germany and Netherlands?

      Josef, I do believe you should consider writing a book about all those experiences and the way things unfolded musically and socially through the decades.

    6. By commerzialization i mean that at the beginning there is a noble experiment. It is a politik of freedom.
      But then it attracts a lot of the wrong people, as happened in the hippie movement or in punk/new wave. People who dress like real hippies, punks etc...but those who have nothing to do with the movement have no idea about anything and are only looking for their advantage. In a word, it becomes fashionable and the industry seizes the topic and everything goes to hell.

      I assume it's the right photo because you like it.
      We'll see about that with the book. Maybe something else is coming.

  5. I am complete. This album was the only one that I was missing from FG. Now I'm gonna work on finding his 6 studios as Frank Tovey. Thanks for adding this to your site.

  6. Another word about U4: I saw probably the best Austrian post punk band live there in 1980. HOTEL MORPHILA ORCHESTER
    The band existed from 1978-1980. In 1995 a do-cd was released with everything on it (and more). The sing is (most) in german, the lyrics are very good, but so is the music. I can highly recommend.

  7. So underrated!!!!!!!!!!!