BOX OF FROGS (feat Jeff Beck, Rory Gallagher) – S/T ’84 [Cherry Red / Esoteric Recordings remaster +2]
When The Yardbirds croaked, up burst a BOX OF FROGS… this band was formed by three members of The Yardbirds – Chris Dreja, Paul Samwell-Smith, and Jim McCarty – but since there names are not Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page or Jeff Beck, most would not recognize their names on the same plaque as those other three mega-famous guitarists in The Yardbirds.
On June 23, 1983, as part of London’s historic Marquee Club’s 25th Anniversary celebrations, three original Yardbirds musicians found themselves together on stage again. This same venue had been a regular nightspot for the legendary guitar-based blues-rock band that was the springboard for the likes of Clapton, Beck and Page.
For Paul, Chris and Jim, the reunion made them realize they had to make more music in the Yardbirds’ tradition. They added the excellent British Lions’s John Fiddler on vocals to form the nucleus of the band.
While recording the debut LP, on Christmas Eve 1983, Jeff Beck joined them at a farmhouse south of London and added his unique touch to four of the tracks. As other old friends jumped into the sessions – including Rory Gallagher, British Lions’ Ray Majors, Jethro Tull’s Peter-John Vettese, Jeff Beck Band Max Middleton, and many more – the idea for the group’s curious new name came about: BOX OF FROGS.
Remastered by Cherry Red / Esoteric Recordings and with 2 bonus tracks, their 1984’s self-titled debut “Box Of Frogs” is a great slice bluesy Classic Rock with an ’80s mainstream AOR radio-friendly delivery, timeless rock ‘n roll in a feel-good vibe mood.
While with a very ’80s sound production, ”Box Of Frogs” was some kind of a Yardbirds comeback with an updated style. Jeff Beck dropping some awesome solos elevates the album’s quality, as well as Rory Gallagher also helping out with great guitar and electric sitar on three cuts.
In 1984, Box Of Frogs got plenty of play on album rock stations with the pounding rocker ”Back Where I Started” featuring Jeff Beck on guitar – even though he wasn’t an official ‘frog’. The song was the album opener and a hell of a start, just a great rockin’ tune. Also taken as single, the track is a sweet choice ride just like the English TVR sports car featured in the video.
Other highlights include the bruising rocker “Harder”, “Another Wasted Day” features some lovely guitar by Beck, and the strutting “Love Inside You”, with Dzal Martin on guitar. “The Edge” smokes with a great Gallagher slide guitar.
The howl of “Two Steps Ahead” puts a definite 80s stamp on the LP, and the simple roll of “Into The Dark” is very good too.
Box Of Frogs – both the band and this debut album – are pretty unknown for many. It’s an album with something for everyone; fans of classic rock / Yardbirds, fans of Jeff Beck & Rory Gallagher, mid-Eighties polished mainstream AORish rock n’ roll, and more. Timeless stuff.
Very cool that Cherry Red / Esoteric Recordings decided to reissue the CD for the first time remastered, and including 2 B-sides.
01 – Back Where I Started
02 – Harder
03 – Another Wasted Day
04 – Love Inside You
05 – The Edge
06 – Two Steps Ahead
07 – Into The Dark
08 – Just A Boy Again
09 – Poor Boy
10 – X-Tracks [B-side to Into The Dark]
11 – Nine Lives [B-side to Back Where I Started 12″]
Paul Samwell-Smith – bass, backing vocals, percussion, synthesizer
Jim McCarty – drums, percussion, backing vocals
John Fiddler – lead and backing vocals, guitar, synthesizer
Chris Dreja – rhythm guitar, percussion, backing vocals
Jeff Beck – lead guitar (tracks 1, 3, 6, 9)
Rory Gallagher – slide guitar (tracks 5, 7), electric sitar (track 7)
Ray Majors – lead guitar, backing vocals and percussion (track 2)
Dzal Martin – lead guitar (tracks 4, 7, 8), slide guitar (track 4)
Mark Feltham – harmonica (track 1)
Peter-John Vettese – keyboards (tracks 1, 3), piano (track 8)
Max Middleton – keyboards (tracks 2, 4, 5, 7)
Geriant Watkins – piano (track 9, 4)