Toast And Marmalade For Tea by Tin Tin (ATCO, 1971)

This oddball track hit the Top 20 in the US in the Spring of 1971. I don’t know why. Between the distorted piano and 4 lines of lyrics, repeated as a nursery rhyme, it’s actually quite annoying. I only actually thought of it because of the new Tin Tin movie, a Belgian comic strip character from the 30s, that the group named itself after. But the group, song and its success is worth mentioning for 2 reasons.

One: Tin Tin reminded everyone that they missed the Bee Gees

By 1969, Robin Gibb had left the Bee Gees and by 1970, Barry & Maurice went solo as well. Everyone’s solo career flopped and no one knew what to do. Maurice tried his hand at producing and found fellow labelmates and Robert Stigwood signees, Tin Tin. He produced their first album, which featured Toast & Marmalade For Tea and uncannily sounded like a lost Bee Gees tune. The album initially went nowhere, but all hope was not lost. Missing his brothers, Maurice and twin, Robin got back together to write some sad-sacky songs and get the blues out of their system. They released a single, Lonely Days, which made the Top 10. But the reunion wasn’t permanent until the left-field success of Toast…, which made everyone ask, ‘Is this the Bee Gees?’ Inspired by disgust or anger, the Gibbs wrote How Can You Mend A Broken Heart and went on to be the biggest selling act of the decade.

Two: It gave Steve Kipner his first chance at songwriting and fame

You may not know who Steve Kipner is, but you’ve certainly heard his songs. Although he only sings on this 45, he did co-write the B-side and other songs on the Tin Tin LP. No one could have imagined that 10 years later, he would write the biggest the song of the 80s. Physical by Olivia Newton-John, originally pitched to Rod Stewart, would spend 10 weeks at the top. He would have very little success in various groups through the 70s (although his solo LP, Knock The Walls Down, is a pretty good West Coast pop album). But without the success of this tune, he might have given up before he wrote Hard Habit To Break for Chicago, Impulsive for Wilson Philips, Heart Attack & Twist Of Fate for ONJ or even Genie In A Bottle for Christina Aguliera. The guy has a 40 year career, spanning 5 decades. And it all stemmed from this odd mix of British psychedelic bubblegum pop.

When folks won’t leave my party, I put this track on repeat. It drives people to fisticuffs…try it out. Or put the 45 on, cuddle with your loved one and tell her that she’s lovelier than toast and ships.

Leave a comment


  1. Steve E

     /  January 6, 2012

    Ah, well. I certainly disagree on this one, which is one of my favorite records from 1971. Not sure why. Maybe it’s the ambiguous lyrics and because they go back and forth between the first and second verses except near the beginning, when the second verse repeats before going back to the first. Maybe it IS that it sounds so much like the Bee Gees. But I especially like how the song builds and builds toward its great harmonies and just seems to float on forever. Also, this record has never been released in true stereo, an oddity by 1971.

  2. I don’t recall ever hearing this song before, but, while I’ll allow it sounds more like something from 1967 than 1971, I don’t think it’s in any way a bad song – possibly because I have fond memories of the “British Invasion”, when songs like this were very popular.

  3. P_L_

     /  January 5, 2013

    [Kipner] “would have very little success in various groups through the 70s”

    Well, he should have gotten royalties whey “Skyhigh” by “British Jigsaw” became a hit in 1975-1977 in various countries. The chorus was basically this song with a disco beat. I think this version is more interesting, though.

  4. Steve Louden

     /  November 14, 2015

    This is a beautiful song that has always brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. I don’t care what anyone says about the lyrics repeated over and over, it gets better and more touching as the tune progresses and the horns and the strings join in. I just truly wish it would have been released in stereo. That’s the only downfall. : (

  5. Peter Colmer

     /  December 28, 2019

    The last key change is one too many! Those high notes are a real strain for whoever is singing the top line.

  6. Jank

     /  June 8, 2022

    Still it’s such a haunting enigmatic beguiling song!!!! I truly love its ethereal qualities, the seemingly wayward arrangement and the goddamn ambiguity of it. I think it is a classic!


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