From the Vault...


Box Of Frogs
"Box Of Frogs/
Strange Land"

© Renaissance Records
Year of Release: 1983

track listing
Box Of Frogs:
  • Back Where I Started
  • Harder
  • Another Wasted Day
  • Love Inside You
  • The Edge
  • Two Steps Ahead
  • Into The Dark
  • Just A Boy Again
  • Poor Boy
    Strange Land:
  • Get It While You Can
  • You Mix Me Up
  • Hanging From
    The Wreckage
  • Heart Full Of Soul
  • Asylum
  • Strange Land
  • Trouble

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    Box Of Frogs
    "Box Of Frogs/Strange Land"

    The first time I had ever heard of the group Box Of Frogs, was when I was working my first job as a theatre usher. One of the guys was mentioning this band, and how he liked them. Little did I know that members of this band were from The Yardbirds. It was their first album, Box Of Frogs, and after hearing the original 9 tracks from this album, I can agree -- it is truly an excellent album.

    Former Yardbirds Jim McCarty (drums), Chris Dreja (guitar), and Paul Samwell-Smith (bass) reunited in 1983, with lead vocalist John Fiddler in 1983. (Original lead vocalist, Keith Reif, died in 1976.) They released two albums, (Box Of Frogs and Strange Land). However only their first album was available in the United States. Thanks to many CD import companies, both albums have been preserved for CD, as originally I had purchased their first album on CD, and when I saw the "two albums on one CD," I couldn't resist.

    What also makes these albums more special, is that the band was helped by two famous guitarists, who at one time were members of The Yardbirds. Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page devoted their time in helping some of the songs for these albums -- Beck on Box Of Frogs, and Page on Strange Land. They also received help from these other famous musicians: Steve Hackett (of Yes), Graham Gouldman (of 10cc), Ian Dury (and the Blockheads -- "Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll,") and Rory Gallagher (blues guitarist).

    B O X  O F  F R O G S
    The first nine songs are from Box Of Frogs. It kicks off with the harmonica-driven blues rocker, "Back Where I Started." It has the beat of two well-known songs: "Spirit In The Sky" by Norman Greenbaum, and Canned Heat's "On The Road Again." It's a great blues rocker, and has a great sound. It has the 1980s rock sound, yet the vocals of John Fiddler does resemble the 1960s Yardbirds. Jeff Beck helps out on guitar, and the harmonica pipes are provided by Mark Feltham.

    "Harder" has a more 1980s rock sound. It's another great rocker, featuring great rock guitar solos. "Another Wasted Day" is also blues inspired (like "Back Where I Started"), yet it has a more moody sound. Some of the guitars have the blues sound of the early Savoy Brown. Jeff Beck also provides help with guitar on this one. "Love Inside You" has a more 1980s pop sound.

    "The Edge" features Rory Gallagher on slide guitar, and it has a 1970s Kinks rock sound. Mysterious, and a little psychedelic defines "Two Steps Ahead," another 1980s rocker, with a somewhat post-Roger Waters Pink Floyd sound. Again, Jeff Beck helps out on guitar on this one. "Into The Dark" is a bit slower, and has an adult pop sound. (Slide guitar provided by Rory Gallagher on this one.)

    "Just A Boy Again" is another adult pop sounding song, almost like a Tom Petty ballad. Box Of Frogs closing song is a slow-blues driven song, "Poor Boy." It has the garage-rock band sound, as heard in bands like Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and The Georgia Satellites.

    Box Of Frogs -- an excellent album -- I give it

    S T R A N G E  L A N D
    Continuing with the 1980s adult-pop sound, Strange Land starts out with "Get It While You Can," as this song gets some help from Graham Parker on vocals. It's another great rocker, and once again, a great way to start out the album. "You Mix Me Up" is another great adult-pop number, where it's a more rock-Duran Duran. (Rory Gallagher helps out on lead guitar.)

    "Average" has the punk-styled vocals of Ian Dury, and former Yes-man Steve Hackett provides the lead guitar. This one is different; having the somewhat punk-influenced sound, as in the post-Clash group, Big Audio Dynamite.

    "House On Fire" is another rock-blues song with some impressive slide and lead guitar work by Rory Gallagher. "Hanging From The Wreckage" reminds me of Pink Floyd (the background vocals), and the lead vocals resembles Steve Miller. Rory Gallagher provides the lead and electric guitar (which is quite different, the guitar licks are very unique, as if it was the sitar). Roger Chapman provides the lead vocals. A very impressive song.

    Roger Chapman provides the lead vocals on an upbeat version of The Yardbirds' "Heart Full Of Soul," with help on guitar from Rory Gallagher. The vocals reminds me of Brian Johnson of AC/DC, with his quivering vocal style on this one. Jimmy Page helps with guitar on "Asylum," a song that definitely has the Jimmy Page sound, and you could picture Led Zeppelin doing this song in the 1980s.

    With the quivering vocals of Roger Chapman on "Strange Land" (the title track song), it almost has a resemblence to Roxy Music, with its slow-driven beat and sound. Strange Land's closing number, "Trouble" also reminds me of Roxy Music, as it resembles "Love Is The Drug," with the guitar licks, yet it has a more 1980s rock edge.

    If you just happen to browse through the "B" section of your music stores, and see the "2 CDs on one" Box Of Frogs/Strange Land, you won't be disappointed. It's a 1980s rock album, yet it has some similarities in sound (but not much) as to the original Yardbirds. Yes, its The Yardbirds reunion; It does feature the blues of The Yardbirds, as if they updated their sound, and they also included the common rock sound of the 1980s at the same time. All in all, grab this CD, it's very impressive.

    Strange Land -- another excellent album -- I give it

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