Reissue on 180 gram LP in thick card US style gatefold sleeve.
The Frost’s second album on Vanguard, Rock and Roll Music, has the 1969 Dick Wagner four years before he would tour as part of the Lou Reed Rock & Roll Animal Band. The title track, recorded live at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit by engineer Ed Friedner, has an incessant chant over a bellowing guitar foundation. It is a good, raw picture of early Wagner music, a vital document of a Michigan band that helped shape that scene. “Sweet Lady Love” is the group in the recording studio with a tune that rocks like latter day Guess Who around the time of their Live at the Paramount LP. Producer Sam Charters balances the live tracks with the studio ones, á la John Simon’s vision for Janis Joplin’s Cheap Thrills. An acoustic ballad, “Linda,” is placed in between that hard rock and is a far cry from the nice madness of side two’s live tracks. In fact, the delicacy of Dick Wagner’s voice and guitar playing might’ve found some chart action if it wasn’t put in the context of a near metal album. Wagner sounds more like a British folky, say solo Paul McCartney, than American contemporary songwriters/singers James Taylor and Jonathan Edwards. “Linda” also sounds more like the type of music one would expect to hear on Vanguard. The parallels between Lou Reed and Frost cannot be ignored. Reed’s signature tunes during RR Animal were “Sweet Jane,” “Lady Day,” and “Rock & Roll.” Wagner’s titles, “Rock and Roll Music” and “Sweet Lady Love,” are side by side here — just an eerie premonition of the shape of things to come. “Black Train” on this album has the same vibe as the Velvet Underground’s “Train Coming Round the Bend” off of Loaded, though the style and melody are different. “Help Me Baby,” on the other hand, has a throbbing Blue Cheer bassline from co-singer and bassist Gordy Garris and rhythm guitarist Don Hartman, as well as a Grand Funk style blitz. “Donny’s Blues” opens side two, almost eight minutes of the band vamping with Hartman on vocals and harmonica. It melts into the song the Animals made famous for Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.” Vanguard should go through the vaults and expand the live segments of this recording. One can feel the framework which would benefit Alice Cooper when the Rock & Roll Animal Band moved on to back that rock star. And Dick Wagner played a big role in writing some of Alice’s biggest hits when they collaborated. The Frost has glimpses of the sound that would be so instrumental in defining ’70s hard rock.