1. Who is the band? What is their history? What motivates them?
“Bullfrog blues is the name of an old traditional American song and music, (covered also by Canned Heat and Rory Gallagher) but Bullfrog is the name of a band from Verona, Italy who plays good old classic hard rock! The band was formed in 1993 from the ashes of other important bands from Verona (Great Fish, Capricorn, Highshooter, Hitchers). Starting as a cover band, the group plays songs by Free, Bad Company, Grand Funk, Led Zeppelin, Mountain, and other blues standards. The sound is pretty much reminiscent of the classic power-trios of the 70's, with a lot of room for improvisations and solos. In a while Bullfrog begin to gain a reputation as a live band, playing also at various biker festivals, with shows often lasting more than four hours!” (http://www.bullfrogband.net, 2009).
In 2001 Bullfrog finally enter the studio to record their debut album, Flower on the Moon, for the Andromeda Relics label. The album includes nine original compositions plus one interesting cover of Sail on, Sail Away, originally recorded by Moxy, a great and sadly forgotten Canadian band from the 70's” (http://www.bullfrogband.net, 2009).
2. Why did they make this album? What was the passion or message that forced them to produce what they have? Or, simply what was their motivation for the themes they chose for this album?
This is their latest album and it was an attempt to bring the power and sound of their first album Flower on the Moon and their more soulful follow up, The Road to Santiago together in a new album
3. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
Straight ahead organic and powerful rock and roll like it used to be played in the 70s, but with an original authentic sound. Mission accomplished!
Over Again – That Wipe Out sounding guitar effect lights the flame and we’re off. No wasting time here. The rocket is launched. Powerful guitar, bass, and drums kicking off this (no doubt), live show opener. Nice interlude in the middle, “one step forward, two steps back, find that you’re just the same old wreck”, right before a blistering guitar solo. Power coming at you from all sides of the room. You will want to hear this over and over.
F for Fool – Drums and lead guitar open this one. There is a message in this one. Follow others up the ladder of fame and fortune or take control of your own life. Great guitars and drums. Good hooks and good clean recording methods make this and the entire album solid.
Rocking Ball – The bullfrog rock buzz of the Jimmy Page sounding guitars sets this one apart from other bands who copy 70s era rockers. You’ll swear this is a Bad Company song. Not a cover song, but one Bad Company never recorded or released. The band used to be a cover band playing Bad Company and others before they launched their own original material. Yet there is enough of that Zep sound to make it a great combination of both bands. The lead vocalist really sounds like Paul Rogers on this one. So if you like BC, you’ll like this one. Those drums really are pronounced on this one.
Detour – One of the highlights of the album. The beginning of the album’s peak. That charging lead guitar blitz and accompanying organ really open this one powerfully.
“Running for your life, trying to justify” Over seven minutes of powerful guitar supported by organ and smashing drums and cymbals. The epic. Very strong blues rocker. There are no detours away from this one. Strong vocals and I’m sure a show topper when they do it live. You can feel the power of this even on this recording. Only one word for this one P-O-W-E-R!
On Through the Night – Another power rocker, but lacks the intensity and dynamic sound of the last one. This one is full of lyrics and displays the singer’s extraordinary talents with the microphone. Bass and the rhythm of the drums really play a key role in this song. The middle instrumental really picks this one up. I am sure these guys have some great jam sessions live on stage. Would be great to see this live. The guitar riffs really remind you of some of the best of Page. The drum/bass rhythm will have your foot and hands tapping.
Every Sunny Day – Slow it down a bit after what would be a great opening set of music live. A nice bluesy Black Crowes, Allman Bros. kinda laid back song. Stuck in winter, missing the summer sun and being able to lie in a field of grass or by the ocean relaxing. Just what is needed for the middle of an album. Really reminds me towards the end, of some of Chris Robinson’s solo sound. “Tell me where are you now my friend.”
One for a Zero – The best song on the album, IMHO. Well worth the price of admission and the reason, along with Detour, that I have requested the band send me its back catalog for review. Look for those and more in the future. Can’t get this one out of my mind. It’s incredible. The music and the lyrics come together to make this one even more powerful than Detour to me. The backing vocals, the guitar is just so original with the organ quietly supporting in the background. Driving guitars and drums just filling the room with sound. The vocals match the power of the music. The pinnacle. Sure to be a crowd pleaser at shows!
Keep Me Smiling – This one sounds like a good solid straight ahead rocker. Good positive, upbeat sound and more great guitar licks supported by that perfect drum rhythm support. “I’ve been trying to find a new beginning just to see if it’s late to save the day.”
Rat Kicking – More bullfrog backbeat blues. More of that Bad Company sound here, but not a copy, very original sounding music and vocals, just enough of a similarity to remind you of where they came from and their influences. Great solo vocals towards the end the song.
Easy on My Love – Very Zeppelinesque guitar opener. Solid heavy guitars and smashing drums supporting vocals “and if I do believe in one thing, I believe this thing can last, if we search for one another.” Yeah these guys have been popular in Verona, but hopefully that fan base will spread beyond Italy with this release.
Poor Man Cry – Powerful lead guitar just rips this one off to a great start then the drums kick in. You can actually feel these drums throughout the album. Not just hear but feel the drums pounding. Haven’t said that in a while on a review. The drums feel like they are in the room. This guy really hits them hard. Actually the third best song on the album. The guitar solos and drum/guitar combos really blast home the power of this band. Great way to leave you looking forward to the next album!
4. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
Not at all prog. Not sure why they sent it to us, but very happy they did! Wonderful bullfrog blues rock. Doesn’t change the genre of hard rock either, but definitely adds an up and coming band to the wave of bands trying to fill the void for the loss of bands like Canned Heat, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, and others.
Very original in a genre filled with bands trying to copy their heroes. This band gives you enough of the sound while at the same time provides you new lyrics, rhythm, and melody to add to your collection of memories.
5. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
Absolutely! Haven’t stopped playing it since I received it. Was expecting another 70s cover – type band by the looks of the album cover, but was absolutely blown away by the original sound and power of the dynamic music they have produced. All three of these guys have created something powerful together and I am really looking forward to hear the back catalog which inspired this effort.
In this genre it is very difficult to be and sound original because so many great bands have preceded you. One of the best albums I have reviewed this year. Maintaining that originality despite similarities is what makes this such a powerful album.
Rating: 8/10 – Very good work. There are some real showstoppers here, but I am leaving room for the future.
Reviewed by Prof on October 24th, 2009