Toad, Toad (1971)
The discography of founding Toad guitarist Vic Vergeat is kind of all over the place. Up to two live albums in 2013, he was still making music, and over the years before and since Toad‘s self-titled 1971 debut, he’s collaborated with a variety of players, from Ratt‘s Tom Croucier, Jr. and Frankie Banali in 1982 to David Hasselhoff 11 years later. Toad, as a unit, have been an intermittent part of that process, but a justifiable focal point all the same. The band formed in 1970 with Vergeat on guitar, Benjamin Jaeger on vocals, and the rhythm section of bassist Werner Frolich and drummer Cosimo Lampis, both recently departed from krautrockers Brainticket. Toad ultimately wouldn’t have much in common with that group’s expanses, but while more aesthetically stripped down to a heavy rocking, bluesy core, there’s still something exploratory about Toad‘s Toad, longer cuts like “They Say I’m Mad,” “Life Goes On” and “Pig’s Walk” in the album’s midsection finding a way to build on the crunching riff of opener “Cottonwood Hill” without going so far as to be out of place.
If you haven’t heard it before, it’ll be familiar territory for listeners experienced in the ways of the heavy ’70s, but the noteworthy production of Martin Birch (Black Sabbath, Deep Purple) brings the Swiss outfit’s impact to a fine point — or, in the case of the bassline underscoring the guitar solo in “Life Goes On,” a blunt point. Birch would also helm Toad‘s second outing, Tomorrow’s Blue, in 1972, but by then Jaeger was out of the band. Bluesy frontmen were a dime a dozen, I guess, but from the side B opener calling back to “Cottonwood Hill,” to the wah-soaked Hendrixian freakout of “Pig’s Walk,” to the subtle progressivism of “The One I Mean” closing out, Jaeger is a crucial part of Toad making the impression it does, which even in a well-dredged sea of private-press reissues and heavy rock revivalism, manages to stand out for the quality of its performance and overarching vibe.
Several reissues have popped up over the years. I think the most recent of them was Akarma‘s, which you can still find around on CD via the interwebs. Toad‘s last official studio album was 1995’s Hate to Hate, which was a revamped version of Stop this Crime, released two years earlier, but if you’re beginning an investigation, it’s the first three records from their original run — Toad, Tomorrow’s Blue and 1974’s Dreams — that you’re going to want to start with. Either way, I hope you enjoy.
It has taken me like half the friggin’ day just to write this post. I’ve had a half-cold all week that sometime overnight last night decided to fully bloom. Couple that with lingering issues from a sprained ankle last week — sometimes I think, “I used to heal so quickly,” and then I remember I’m in my mid-30s and it’s only going to get worse from here — and I’m absolutely laid up. I managed to shower this morning — small favors — but couldn’t actually get myself out the door to go to work. I genuinely tried. It just wasn’t happening.
Given that, I’m hoping that by staying as absolutely still as possible today, tonight and the better part of the day tomorrow, I’ll be better able to get my ass up and go see Corrosion of Conformity, Mothership, Brant Bjork and Saviours tomorrow night in Boston. They’re in NYC this evening, and were it not for the injury being to my right ankle (aka my driving ankle), I had considered making the trip south for the show — Gramercy Theater has a photo pit, Paradise Rock Club in Boston does not, to the best of my knowledge — but that went out the window. I don’t know that by tomorrow I’ll be in any shape to actually stand up front and take pictures, might just be a couple shots from the back this time around, but I’m going to try to get there early anyway and at least get the lay of the land.
Review of that on Monday, one way or another. Also a full-album stream from Isaak. Next week will have reviews of Uzala‘s Live at Roadburn, which will be a fucking pleasure to write about — I’m pretty much giving myself a treat by doing so — and the new Bevar Sea, which has been on the to-do list for far too long. Not sure of what sort yet, but I’ll have another year-end list up as well. Maybe best songs, maybe top 20 debuts. I’m not really sure yet. There’s a lot to cram in.
That said, a huge thanks to everyone who has submitted a list so far to the Top 20 of 2015 Readers Poll. As of right now, we’re over 110 contributors, and that is very much appreciated.
At some point too, I’ll put together a year-end podcast, as is sort of the tradition. Probably not next week, but the week after. Either way, keep an eye out.
And maybe this is just the cold medicine talking, but I feel like I haven’t said in a while how much your support means to me. If you’re reading this, thank you so fucking much, from the bottom of my weirdo misanthropic, all-kinds-of-wretched heart. I’ve having some tough times of late dealing with various personal/medical issues, and working on this site is a big part of what keeps me sane. So again, thank you.
Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and the radio stream.