Classic Rock Music Merges With The NWOBHM
by Jody Haskins for the Laguna Spectator August 8, 2016
Classic rock music merged with punk music for the first time on Ethel The Frog. The self titled debut album by British rock band ‘Ethel The Frog’ is a NWOBHM classic. The band was formed in Hull, England in 1976 and they took their name from a Monty Python sketch about the ‘Piranha Brothers’ entitled Ethel The Frog.
It is a shame that Ethel the Frog’s eponymous LP sounds rushed and incomplete. During the mid-seventies, Ethel The Frog had recorded many different demos. Sadly their record company EMI was too stingy to purchase the additional studio time needed to re-record and mix the old demos. As a result, those raw sounding demos make up the bulk of this album.
In spite of these facts, the album still manages to do an admirable job of merging the classic rock music influences with late seventies punk rock.
Ethel The Frog contains soaring solos and gritty guitar work reminiscent of Tommy Bolin before he joined Deep Purple. They had a wonderful rhythm section that sounds eerily similar to early Black Sabbath. The bands other distinguishing feature was in their imaginative lyrical content. Give a close listen to ‘Apple of Your Eye’ and tell me what you think this song is about.
There is a subtle punk influence in the vocal tone and attitude on this recording. The thing I like the most about the Ethel The Frog sound is the way it continually changes tempo and yet never loses its way.
The guitar sound is fuzz toned like early Tommy Bolin and the vocals and chorus are reminiscent of Rod Evan’s post Deep Purple band Captain Beyond most popular track ‘Dancing Madly Backwards’.
Where Are They Now?
Other than a CD re-issue of the album in 1997 by British Steel Records, Ethel the Frog has not been heard from since 1981. Singer and bass player Terry Hopkinson hung up his rock and roll spurs and is now a lecturer at the University Of Leicester School Of Archaeology.
Rhythm guitarist/vocalist Paul Tognola and drummer Paul Conyers went on to form a new band called ‘Salem’. Salem released a single called ‘Reach for Eternity/Cold as Steel’ in 1982. Salem broke up in 1983, then reformed in 2009.
Lead guitarist Doug Sheppard has released some original songs in the years since the demise of Ethel the Frog and he still plays the guitar professionally in the Netherlands.
Here is the full album for your listening pleasure.
Monty Python’s Original Ethel The Frog Skit