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Ode to Toad

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I just stumbled across an old news story about Toad the Wet Sprocket reuniting for a brief tour last February. I don’t remember hearing anything about it. There was a brief period in the early-’90s when Santa Barbara’s Toad was on top of the world – how soon they forget.

Though classified an “alternative” band (often a catchall category of last resort), Toad was really a ’90s update of the folk/country rock of the Byrds or the Eagles (Glen Phillip’s vocals recall Glenn Frey). Gavin MacKillop’s full, bold production finds this connection by dispensing with the undertone of self-conscious irony that typifies “alternative” music. Perhaps this absence is the true alternative.

Regardless, Fear made the band ubiquitous on rock, light rock and adult radio with such staples as “Walk On the Ocean,” “All I Want,” and “I Will Not Take These Things For Granted,” and the album stands like a rock.

The band’s next album, Dulcinea, was something of a reaction against the lushness of Fear. “After a year of touring, Toad was looking for a much more live-sounding record. They wanted to minimize the overdubs and to make sure that every part was essential to the song. On Fear they were experimenting with organs and string quartets and such, but on Dulcinea it was getting back to the core of the four piece band,” MacKillop said.

The result is a cleaner, tighter, but not necessarily better, record. Though blessed with excellent songs: “Fly From Heaven,” “Something’s Always Wrong” and especially “Fall Down,” the album doesn’t hang together quite as well as Fear.

I haven’t heard anything about Toad’s plans for the future – I am not a fan of Glen Phillips’ solo work thus far.

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • Toad’s a great band, really miss having something like them around. Hopefully this reunion tour will result in an album at some point, whether live or studio. I’m still amazed that this band that had such great live shows never put out a live album beyond a couple of singles/EPs.

    Dulcinea is actually my favorite album from the band. There’s an earnest quality in that album that I don’t find in their others (while also good – not to say they’re bad at all.) But, as always, I seem to be alone in favoring this album over the others. I’m a weirdo, what can I say?

  • Eric Olsen

    You’re not too weird on that one – I like it a lot too, as I said. The songs may be even better en toto than on Fear, it just doesn’t seem to hold together quite as well as an album.

  • Mike Lewis

    I love Toad The Wet Sprocket, and am also a Dulcinea-preferring weirdo .. haha.

  • Eric Olsen

    not weird! Thanks

  • Dulcinea is oddly one of my favorite albums overall. I do see what you’re talking about in terms of haning together, but I still rate it quite highly.

  • Carrick

    I prefer “Coil’ to all of the other records, but they’re all damn great.

    Glen’s debut was hard to take, even he said he went a bit too far with it, but he did it as a “screw you” to major labels and the music industry in general.

    his new solo album, which is self titled, is his first for Universal Records and it reminds me alot of “Dulcinea”, grittier guitars and soaring vocals, amazing production by John Fields.

    a new era for Glen

    also, Columbia is working with the band on a Live Toad album recorded from 1992-2003 (on the reunion tour). should be out in 2005

  • Jonathan

    yeah, Glen’s self titled album was finally released as “Winter Pays For Summer”, it’s a beautiful record.

    I dare say it blows his work with Toad right out of the water, musically and lyrically he raised the bar for himself with tracks such as “Cleareyed”, “Duck And Cover”, “Falling”, and “True”

    he has a new album on the way in May of 2006 called “Mr. Lemons”, and is once again reuniting with Toad in August for a few shows before he heads off on his 9 month tour of Europe.