Monday, 26 September 2016

Wynder K. Frog - Out of the Frying Pan (Jazz/Blues/Soul UK 1968)

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Wynder K. Frog was a jazz/blues band organized in 1967 by keyboard player Mick Weaver. The membership of the group -- which was billed as Wynder K. Frogg in one of its earliest London gigs (opening for the then newly-formed Traffic) -- was somewhat fluid, especially in the early part of its history, and their recording history is even more confusing, owing to the nature of their very first album, Sunshine Super Frog. Apart from being one of the rarer long-players from the Island Records catalog of 1967, the latter record was essentially Mick Weaver playing with a group of uncredited session musicians (from New York, no less) under the overall guidance of producer Jimmy Miller. 

The group's most well-known incarnation came along a little later, coalescing around ex-Bluesology guitarist Neil Hubbard, Alan Spenner on bass, saxophonist Chris Mercer (formerly of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers), Anthony Reebop Kwaku Baah on percussion, and Bruce Rowland on the drums. Weaver's Hammond B-3 organ was central to their sound, however, and the leader credited himself with the personal alias "Wynder K. Frog."

Out of the Frying Pan This lineup impressed audiences and critics alike, and got to record an LP, Out of the Frying Pan (1968), co-produced by Miller and Gus Dudgeon. That record featured them covering established compositions ranging from "Alexander's Ragtime Band" to "Jumpin' Jack Flash," as well as a pair of Mick Weaver pieces. They got a fair amount of notice for their pounding rendition of "Green Door," and their instrumental version of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" also achieved considerable cult popularity as a single. And their single-only release of "I'm a Man" has proved enduringly popular as well. 

Like a lot of jazz/blues hybrid groups of the era, Wynder K. Frog were able to achieve serious recognition in London, but were running against a musical tide from America that was moving in the direction of arena rock and big-scale, high-volume sounds with which they could never compete, at least with their brand of music. 

The classic lineup started to split in late 1968, but not before Shawn Phillips came aboard on guitar and vocals for a time. Spenner went on to become part of Joe Cocker's Grease Band along with Rowland, the two in that capacity playing an extended tour of the United States, culminating with the Woodstock festival in August of 1969, and they and Neil Hubbard were subsequently the core of the reorganized, free-standing Grease Band. 

Meanwhile, following the dissolution of Wynder K. Frog, Weaver and his record label issued the posthumous album Into the Fire (1969). The group's reputation was mostly confined to the London music community, though the fact that they kept turning up in accounts of the Grease Band's and Joe Cocker's history probably gave them more international exposure, at least as an object of curiosity, than their music ever did at the time. Among their three LPs, Out of the Frying Pan has been re-released on CD.

01. Jumping Jack Flash 04:05
02. Gasoline Alley 03:05
03. Willie And The Hand Jive 02:24
04. Harpsichord Shuffle 03:58
05. Baby I Love You 02:47
06. This Here 06:24
07. Green Door 02:27
08. Bad Eye 02:37
09. Alexander's Ragtime Band 03:37
10. Tequila 01:58
11. The House That Jack Built 02:33
12. Hymn To Freedom 04:19
13. High Heel Sneakers 03:34

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