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Open Fire (Live In Basel 1972)

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Album Review

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 the 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.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s

Swiss hard rock and blues-rock outfit Toad leaped (sorry) onto their country's charts with their debut single, "Stay," in 1972 — paving the way for the massive Swiss metal movement of the early '80s and such notable bands as Krokus and Celtic Frost. Mainly a three-piece, consisting of Vittorio "Vic" Vergeat (guitar/vocals), Werner Frohlich (bass), and Cosimo Lampis (drums), Toad often enlisted the help of an additional lead vocalist in much of their studio work (Bens Jaeger sang lead on their...
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Open Fire (Live In Basel 1972), Toad
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