Bullfrog - s/t. 1976 Germany
LP other issue: 1976 Annuit Coeptis (USA)
CD reissues: 1995 Green Tree; 2013 Sireena
If there's ever an album to demonstrate to me how much my musical palate has evolved, it's Bullfrog's debut. I first found the LP on Annuit Coeptis (US press) while rummaging around the bargain bins in the mid 1980s. This wasn't an uncommon album to find in those days, usually with the promo-copy word "Free" tattooed in on the bottom. When I first saw it, and I was still new to the whole Krautrock thing, I was certain it was going to be a killer. Especially with that crazy cover and those long tracks on Side 2. Whatever the case, this is decidedly not what I wanted to hear. And I felt like I wasted $2 valuable dollars and couldn't get rid of it fast enough. Of course in those days, unloading albums was not a profitable thing to do, so I held onto it for a few more years and traded it off for something halfway decent (probably not).
Fast forward 30 years, and I now have a chance to source the Sireena CD on the cheap. Ah, why not? Let's see what I think of this album now. After hearing the first two tracks, I felt somewhat vindicated. Boring, straightforward hard blues rock, with a little bit of boogie, and really bad vocals. OH WELL, looks like it's back in the sell bin...
And then comes 'I Came from the Sky'. "Hey, wait a minute...". From here on out, we have an excellent hard rock album, with organ and synthesizer - and especially some fantastic guitar work. Those "bad vocals" start to sound good in the context in which they are delivered. By the time we get to the first lengthy number 'Get Away', I'm completely immersed into their sound. There's plenty of great melodies and theme changes throughout to keep the listener involved. Basically we have an inventive album along the lines of prime-era Jane or Birth Control, at that perfect point between hard and progressive rock, tilted more toward the former. Once you've bought into the premise, even the first two tracks no longer sound so bad.
30 years ago, I didn't have any foundation to build on. I was looking for some Kozmic Krautrock, not some "lame hard rock" that sounded weaker to my ears than the steady regimen of metal I was digesting back then. And of course I didn't have any patience, being a typical tempestuous youth. Proof positive - once again - that music appreciation can often come from experience.