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Wynder K. Frog - Into The Fire (CD)









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Original release 1970

Re-issue 2004

By John Stapleton London-born keyboard player Mick Weaver has had a long career in music, from his early r'n'b performances to his recent work in Taj Mahal's band, but this article is concerned with his body of work in the late 1960's as Wynder K. Frog, leader of the eponymous (mostly) instrumental powerhouse outfit. Listen to samples in RealAudio Over the course of three albums - the hopelessly rare 'Sunshine Superfrog' and the rather more common 'Out of the Frying Pan' for Island in the U.K., and the relatively abundant U.S.-only 'Into the Fire' on United Artists, the Wynder K.Frog band produced some of the most enduring club-organ r'n'b material to come from the swinging 60's mod scene. Though his choice of material wasn't always spot-on (personally I never want to hear the version of 'Alexander's RagTime Band' again), the Wynder K.Frog overall strike rate is pretty high, even managing to make a mod classic out of 'Green Door', subsequently ruined by Shakin' Stevens of course. Backed by some of the top U.K. jazzers including Dick Heckstall-Smith (tenor) and Henry Lowther (trumpet), Wynder K. steams through covers of 'Jumping Jack Flash' and 'High Heel Sneakers' as well as originals like 'Harpsichord Shuffle' on the 1968 'Out of the Frying Pan' lp. On the subsequent 'Into the Fire', backed by sessioners of the calibre of Bruce Rowland (drums) and Rocky Dzidzornu (percussion) - who let loose with some open drums for the beat heads - Wynder gets low down and funky with a set almost completely made up of originals. As the sleeve notes say, 'Composed specifically for the Frog style of musical interpretation, ranging far in beat, tempo and mood'. Apart from the lp's, Wynder K. Frog cut some great 45's featuring non-album tracks - the storming version of the Spencer Davis Group's 'I'm a Man' being a true gem, and extremely hard to find on its UK pressing. Slightly more common is 'Dancing Frog', pretty much a remodel of 'Turn on Your Lovelight' (which he'd already cut once) on the b-side of 'Green Door', making a fine double-sider. The rarest of all singles from the outfit, though, is also one of the more bizarre releases from the U.K. in the 60's - 'Henry's Panter' is a 7 flexidisc promoting a magazine called 'Dog's Life' and featuring Henry, an imaginary dog from his radio show. On one side the British pop radio d.j., Ed Stewart, plugs the magazine, backed by a thunderous mod organ groove from Wynder K. Frog - on the other Mr. Stewart thankfully keeps his mouth shut after the first five seconds and lets the band do the work. On the 'talking' side, Ed Stewart plugs his show on the pirate station Radio London, which ceased broadcasting when the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act came into force in August 1967, thus giving some hint of the date of the record's release. I'm not too sure what dog lovers would have made of it though....