Episode #43 – Green Bullfrog

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Lead up to the Album:

  • Derek Lawrence, who’d produced music with Ritchie Blackmore in the past, began working with Albert Lee.  Their intent was to produce this album with Tony Dangerfield, the bass player for Screaming Lord Sutch.
  • After a while the sessions weren’t working out and the two decided to invite other session musicians that they knew and jam in the studio to record an album.
  • The entire album was recorded in two overnight sessions on April 20 1970 and May 23 1970.
  • Blackmore was invited and brought along Paice.
  • It’s stated in Country Boy: A Biography of Albert Lee by Derek Watts by that they both came directly to the studio after Deep Purple shows.  I can’t find any evidence in their 1970 tour schedule that they played shows on either of these dates.
    • They played on April 18 at Ewell Technical College and on April 21 at BBC in London. 
    • They played the 22 May in London at Brighton at The Dome so it’s possible they recorded the studio time as May 23 after the show.  That or they recorded in the early morning on the 23rd and concluded with the show later in the day.
  • All the musicians on the album had wanted to play together but were all so busy with their own individual projects that this was the only chance they had to do it.
  • One final session was done with strings and brass being overdubbed on January 4, 1971.

Personnel

Since nearly everyone were under contract they chose to use pseudonyms for everyone on the album.

  • “Speedy” (Ian Paice) – drums
    • Nickname from his speedy drum playing
  • “Sleepy” (Chas Hodges) – bass
    • https://www.chashodges.co.uk/
    • Played with Ritchie Blackmore in the Outlaws
    • Went on later for form the group Chas ‘n’ Dave
    • Nickname from falling asleep during sessions
  • “Bevy” (Tony Ashton) – piano / organ
    • Nickname because he used to store bottles of light ale under his organ
  • “Sorry” (Matthew Fisher) – piano
    • Keyboardist in Procol Harum
    • Screaming Lord Sutch
    • Hundreds of other credits including Jerry Lee Lewis, Joe Cocker, Ringo Starr
    • Nickname because he would apologize if a second take was needed
  • “Boots” (Ritchie Blackmore) – guitar
    • Nickname from his suede cowboy boots
  • “Pinta” (Albert Lee) – guitar
    • http://www.albertleeofficial.com/
    • Worked with Derek Lawrence, Eric Clapton, Jon Lord on Gemini Suite, The Everly Brothers, Emmylou Harris, Jackson Brown, Joe Cocker, and on, and on.
    • Nickname from in-joke about how he would say “I’m only delivering the milk!” if they needed to do a second take
  • “The Boss” (Big Jim Sullivan) – guitar
    • Prolific session player
    • Played on 59 #1 UK hits
    • Played on hundreds of recordings and had stints with Tom Jones
    • Nickname because everyone respected him as an elder and one of the best session players
  • “The Vicar” (Rod Alexander) – guitar
    • Played with Blackwater Junction and Axe
    • Also did production with Axe
    • In the Green Bullfrog liner notes it says that he was friends with Blackmore and worked at a nearby music shop.  He stopped by to drop off some guitar strings and they convinced him to stay and record.
    • Nickname because Lawrence would always say, “Hello, Vicar” to him
  • “Jordan” (Earl Jordan) – vocals[8]
    • Les Humphries Singers
    • Sang “Old Blind Mole” on live performance of “The Butterfly Ball”
    • Nickname is pretty obvious

There had been rumors that Jeff Beck, Roger Glover, and Jon Lord were involved but none of them were at either of the sessions.

Album Art & Booklet Review

  • Original Black Cover
  • 1980 “Green Bullfrog – Natural Magic” Vinyl Reissue
  • 1991 – Green Bullfrog – The Green Bullfrog Sessions
    • Featuring bonus tracks and tracks reordered

Credits

  • Album produced by Derek Lawrence
  • Engineered by Martin Birch

Album Tracks:

Side one

  1. My Baby Left Me” (Arthur Crudup)
  2. Makin’ Time” (Eddie Phillips, Kenny Pickett)
    1. Something Lawrence and Blackmore were looking to do since the very beginning of Deep Purple and were finally able to put this down at this session.
  3. Lawdy Miss Clawdy” (Lloyd Price)
  4. “Bullfrog” (Derek Lawrence, Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Paice)
    1. This was the leftover remnants of the song “Jam Stew” that Deep Purple had worked on and abandoned.
    2. Blackmore plays the riff once then Sullivan and Lee play on the second go around and harmonize with it.
    3. Tony Ashton on Hammond organ.

Side two

  1. “I Want You” (Tony Joe White)
  2. “I’m a Free Man” (Mark “Moogy” Klingman)
  3. Walk a Mile in My Shoes” (Joe South)
  4. “Lovin’ You is Good for Me Baby” (Lawrence/Corlett/Hutton)
    1. Rearranged by Lawrence in 17/9 time to make it more interesting.

CD Reissue Contains 3 Bonus Tracks:

  • Ain’t Nobody Home (Jerry Ragovoy)
  • Louisiana Man (Doug Kershaw)
  • Who Do You Love? (Ellas McDaniel)

Reception and Review

  • The first release was the session along with the single of “My Baby Left Me” and “Lovin’ You Is Good For Me, Baby” was released on 19 March 1971.  
  • The UK release was a year later in March of 1972.  Lawrence had played some tracks for Mike Maitland of MCA (the president) but he left the company before the release and it was not promoted at all.
  • Some records say it sold less than 500 copies.
  • Album was re-released in 1980 under ECY Street Records in the US.  The sleeve notes were written by Ed Chapero. There was a quote from Blackmore from Guitar Player interview in 1978 quoting that he, Paice, Lee, and Sullivan all played on the LP.  The LP mistakenly credited Roger Glover.
  • Album was remixed at Abbey Road in 1991 by Lawrence and Peter Vince and released again on LP and CD containing the extra tracks not on the original release.  This was the first time all the musicians were properly credited on a release.
  • Short snippet in Technical Audio in November of 1972.
  • https://martinleedham.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/album-review-green-bullfrog-bullfrog-1971/ 

In The News . . .

This Week in Purple History . . .

February 17 through February23

  • February 19, 1949 – Eddie Hardin is born
  • February 17, 1996 – Purpendicular is released

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