Toad – Open Fire (Live in Basel 1972) (2017)

LPFrontCover1Toad was a Swiss hard rock band, formed by ex-Brainticket members in Basel, Switzerland, during 1970. Their best known songs were covers of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” and The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There”, along with originals “Usin’ My Life” and “Stay!”. Their first two albums were engineered by Martin Birch.

Though the band was not commercially successful outside of their own country, they were a popular live act because of their ferocity, musicianship and stage antics. Most notably when lead guitarist Vic Vergeat played the guitar with his teeth. Their concerts were often compared to those of Jimi Hendrix.

The band went through lineup changes during its history, but the longest lasting and most consistent lineup was Vic Vergeat: lead guitar and vocals, Werner Fröhlich: bass and vocals and Cosimo Lampis: drums.

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In 1970, European psychedelic rock band Brainticket was about to release their first album, featuring Werner Fröhlich on bass and Cosimo Lampis on drums. They departed the group and formed Toad with Vittorio ‘Vic’ Vergeat, who was briefly in the British space rock group Hawkwind,[2] playing guitar. They began writing and recording material for their first album in late 1970, and in 1971, Toad released their self-titled album and the single “Stay!,” which did fairly well and made a great deal of headway in the Swiss charts: a feat that no other hard rock band had ever accomplished in that country. The album was mixed by the legendary British producer Martin Birch (who also produced for Deep Purple, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath). The album also features Benjamin “Beni” Jaeger on vocals, who would leave once the album was finished.

As their first album was being released in 1971, Toad performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival that was recorded live by the Swiss Television, but the footage was lost and to date there seems to be no further copy.

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In 1972, the band released Tomorrow Blue, which was in a more blues direction and without a lead vocalist (with Vergeat and Fröhlich taking over vocal duties). Like their first album, it was engineered by the British record producer Martin Birch. The album also included Helmut Lipsky on violin, who played prominently on the tracks “Blind Chapman’s Tales”, “Change In Time” and the single “Green Ham.”[6] Later the same year, the band recorded the album Open Fire: Live in Basel 1972 which included covers of Hendrix’s “Red House” and the Band of Gypsys “Who Knows.”

They waited until 1974 to release their third album, Dreams, which featured the popular single ‘Purple Haze’. After that, their history remains largely undocumented except for a live album recorded in Geneva during 1978 and a studio album released in the early 1990s with different versions of the band. The rest of the 1970s and 1980s were spent appearing on a few compilations, releasing live albums and performing while slowly fading into relative obscurity.

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Somewhere between 1979 and 1988, original bassist Werner Fröhlich left the group and was replaced by Kelvin Bullen, and after he too departed from the group in the early 1990s was replaced by André Buser who would remain with the band until its demise.

In 1986, Toad made an appearance at the “St. Gallen Open Air Festival” in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

During 1993, Toad released the studio album, Stop This Crime. Following its release, original drummer Cosimo Lampis departed from the group and was replaced by Claudio Salsi, who remained until Toad broke up. After Lampis departed from the band, he went on to create a school in Sardinia.

In 1994, Toad played a concert in Brienz, Switzerland, which provided the material for the live album, The Real Thing.

In about 1995, Toad broke up.

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Following Toad’s demise, the album Hate To Hate was released, it contained the same tracks as Stop This Crime, but with a different cover and title.

After Toad, Vegeat went on a solo career, releasing many albums over the years. He then formed and toured with his own band, The Vic Vergeat Band. He still records and plays live to this day (mostly in Europe). The other former members went on to other groups or retired from the music business.

The band never achieved great success outside of their own country, but were influential on the Swiss heavy metal movement during the 1980s, influencing Krokus and Celtic Frost. They have seen renewed interest in the early 2000s among the European hard rock scene.[citation needed] Their albums have been re-released and remastered for new generation of listeners and a CD boxed set, packaged to look like miniature vinyl records was released. (wikipedia)

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And many, many years after the split of Toad this album was released:

For those new to Toad, Switzerland’s most celebrated hard rock band, and thoroughly confused by the eclectic music encased within Akama’s Behind the Wheels, all things are made clear with the solid slab of stage sound emanating from Open Fire Live in Basel 1972. The sleeve notes are equally up-front about the source of this release: a tape bootlegged at Werner Froehlichthe gig. But judging by the quality of the sound — a tad muddy in places but surprisingly good overall — this was presumably taken straight off the mixing board. The CD seems to pick up some way into Toad’s set, as they launch into the epic, almost 15-minute “Tomorrow Blue,” and R&B was where the trio’s hearts were, even as the rhythm section boogied straight into hard rock and guitarist Vittorio Vergeat flickered into metal. “Blues,” too, heaves its way from undiluted 12-bar blues into the power raging R&B-inflected rock that defined the likes of Cream, early Led Zeppelin, and other Brit rockers raised on the blues but determined to drag the genre into the modern age. Sometimes they squall into a bit of an ominous noisefest à la Black Sabbath, as “Thoughts” illustrates, or into virtuoso braggadocio, as on “Pig’s Walk,” where Vergeat attempts to out-flash Jimi Hendrix, a delusion shared by every guitarist of the day. Toad could never beat Hendrix at his own game, but they definitely show they’re experienced across the two Hendrix covers that close out the set. “Red House”‘s R&B roots are showcased to a shine, while “Who Knows” gets equally sumptuous treatment, and although neither is that far removed from the original, both give the bandmembers plenty of opportunity to strut their stuff. Being Swiss, Toad would never garner the success of their British counterparts, but in many ways the trio more effectively melded the blues to rock than any of that island’s more favored sons. (by Jo-Ann Greene)

Recorded live at St. Joseph, Basel/Switzerland, 22-04-1972

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Personnel:
Werner Froehlich (bass, vocals)
Cosimo Lampis (drums, vocals)
Vic Vergeat (guitar, vocals)

CDBooklet03+04Tracklist:
01. Tomorrow Blue (Vergeat/Froehlich) 14.54
02. Thoughts (Vergeat/Froehlich) 7.04
03. Blues (Vergeat) 5.35
04. Pig’s Walk (Vergeat) 4.37
05. Red House (Hendrix) 7.44
06. Who Knows (Hendrix) 11.32

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