Best of The Frost
label: Vanguard Records
our score: 2.0 out of 5.0
was a very rough place in which to live in the late ‘60s.
Just like many cities around the U.S., there were race riots and
fires and general social unrest. Rock fans attending concerts
had to be escorted by police and security guards from the parking
lots, and the music they heard naturally reflected all the turbulence
power rock sound emerged, somewhere between the sweet melodic
pop of The Beatles, and the louder noises of 70s hard rock and
punk. The early work of Grand Funk Railroad best represented the
Detroit scene to the national audience, but there were other lesser-known
bands that gained followings only in the region. The Frost was
one of those bands.
Frost, led by singer/guitarist Dick Wagner, released three albums
between 1968 and 1970, and never caught on outside the Midwest.
This release is a remix of a live recording of the band at Detroit’s
Grande Ballroom in 1969. The band had the idea of releasing the
show as their second album, but as was the common practice of
the day, only portions of it were released at the time, and that
with a great amount of polishing in the studio. Now nearly 35
years later, the release of those tapes in purer form has been
question remains though, why? Did The Frost really have to be
thawed out from ancient rock history? I don’t think so.
The bottom line is the band wasn’t that good, and it’s
not hard to hear why it was never appreciated outside of its hometown
area. The music has raw garage rock power and intensity, but no
standout characteristics. Everything The Frost did was done better
by others before and since.
music is full of clichés and trite, banal lyrics. The volume
of the band overwhelms the recording equipment and it just doesn’t
come through well. The lead track, “Rock and Roll Music”
features repetition of the title phrase which grows annoying while
the band chugs away. It is nothing special, even if it did sell
big as a single in France, as the liner notes point out.
Blues”, sung by rhythm guitarist Donny Hartmann, is nearly
eight minutes of cliché blues oversold vocally by Hartmann.
The “Take My Hand/Mystery Man” 10-minute medley sounds
like a cross between Iron Butterfly and The Beatles. “Mystery
Man” features inferior Beatlesque vocal harmonies (Notice
the title similarities to “Magical Mystery Tour.”)
“Black Train” is introduced as a country rock song,
but it has the same driving, pounding sound of the other songs.
Maybe the presence of a train in the lyrics is supposed to make
big finish is a nearly 17-minute cover of “We Got To Get
Out Of This Place,” best known as done by The Animals. It
features a lot of trademark Beatlesque shouts of “Woo!”
and manufactured excitement by the band. Drummer Bob Rigg takes
a solo which goes on far too long with too much use of a double
bass drum and bashing on crash cymbals. There’s not much
talent on display here.
far, The Frost’s best feature is Dick Wagner’s lead
guitar work. He clearly has the lion’s share of ability
in the band. Wagner went on to work with major names such as Lou
Reed. Alice Cooper, and Peter Gabriel. It was just a matter of
time before he left his less talented friends behind.
Frost is really just a prehistoric ancestor of better artists,
a footnote in rock history, and this CD should be viewed as a
rock equivalent of an archeological dig. It’s interesting
as a historical curiosity, but not worth much in itself.
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