Album Review: Toad And The Wet Sprocket – Rock ‘N’ Roll Runner

Album Review: Toad And The Wet Sprocket - Rock ‘N’ Roll Runner
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings

For every diamond that shone in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, there were hundreds of average bands who fought for their moment. Most never got anywhere near that golden opportunity. Bedfordshire four-piece Toad the Wet Sprocket, named after a Monty Python sketch in the mid-1970s found their time to shine when their song ‘Blues in A’ was included in the NWOBHM compilation ‘Metal for Muthas’. Listening to the band over forty years since that album was released, it seems incredible that they got that far. Sitting alongside the likes of Iron Maiden, Angelwitch and Samson, Toad the Wet Sprocket were in way over their heads.

Bizarrely, over twenty years later, a band using the same name popped up in California. Cue some minor confusion. By then Toad (UK) had been defunct for a long time. This compilation is probably an album that’s unnecessary, for it feels as dated as the songs are, with little spark or fire to excite the listener. The music is in the main, pedestrian and vocalist Mehmet Mustafa’s tuning is variable to say the least.

Album Review: Toad And The Wet Sprocket – Rock ‘N’ Roll Runner

Toad the Wet Sprocket didn’t start as a metal band, and it appears that their diverse approach was a contributory factor in their lack of success. ‘Blues in A’ didn’t sit comfortably alongside the other songs on Metal for Muthas, due to its relaxed, slightly Southern feel. Tracks like ‘Do It for Me’, the singles ‘Rock N Roll Runner’ and ‘One Glass of Whisky’ just aren’t good songs. Ironically, ‘Blues in A’ is probably the best song in this collection but if you want some real gash, then the disco fusion of ‘Feel It’ is utterly hideous. This is one turd that you cannot polish, however hard you try.

What surprises me is where High Roller Records anticipate that their sales are going to come from with this album. The overall package is 68 minutes long, quite astonishing for a band who only released two singles in their entire career: ‘Pete’s Punk Song’ and ‘Reaching for the Sky’. Are there masses of disappointed Toad the Wet Sprocket fans waiting just for this release? If so, and I find it unlikely, then this will be heaven for them for not only do you get a decent remaster of every song, thanks to Patrick W. Engel at Temple of Disharmony, but included in the compilation are additional versions of several of their songs. Twice the song for the same price. What joy!

Lifting such stones forty years after the event still bemuses me. Toad the Wet Sprocket weren’t much cop in 1979. Their sound hasn’t aged well and as a result, this is a compilation record that I’d suggest you might like to avoid unless you have some perverse desire to partake in a part of rock history that probably should have been left in peace.

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