The Frogs’ cult classic ‘It’s Only Right And Natural’ getting 30th anniversary reissue
Jimmy and Dennis Flemion's band The Frogs were one of the of the most wonderfully strange underground bands of the '80s and '90s and their 1989 album It's Only Right And Natural became an instant, if controversial, weirdo music cult classic. Kurt Cobain was a fan -- it was at #15 on his list of Top 50 Albums -- and he often used it as Nirvana pre-show music, as did Pearl Jam. Other fans: Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan & James Iha, who used to play with The Frogs, as well as Andy Richter, Harmony Korine, Sebastian Bach, and Jim O'Rourke, to name a few. Beck sampled "That was a good drum break" from the album's “I Don’t Care If U Disrespect Me (Just So You Love Me)” for "Where It's At" and The Blake Babies named their Rosy Jack World EP after a song on Right and Natural. The album's explicit lyrics, though, angered others like conservative Christian leader Pat Robertson who denounced them on The 700 Club. "The music was so good because it wasn’t really just conceptual, it was pop," says Korine. "Once you got over the crudeness of the lyrics, the songs themselves were beautiful pop music.”
Originally released on Homestead Records (Gerard Cosloy's pre-Matador label), It's Only Right And Natural is getting a 30th anniversary reissue on August 16 via The End of All Music, featuring remixed and remastered audio (the album was accidentally pressed in mono originally) and track-by-track liner notes and and introduction by Jimmy Flemion. (Dennis died in 2012.) Here's what Billy Corgan has to say on the group:
There are bands, and then there are groups. And The Frogs, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, just a short shot north of America’s Midwest, are a fine group. These days being in a band means as much about perception as calculation, but there is little manipulation in this group because you see, The Frogs just are; point is they exist. They shouldn’t really, because they are either too good for rock and roll, or too politically incorrect to matter. But they are one of the greatest rock groups to come out of the 20th century precisely because they are too good for rock and roll, and too smart to care about caring. Fine tunesmiths, they craft memorable hooks out quite readily before stomping on them because they dare to exist. Nothing is sacred, but the reverence is there for the unspeakable uncomfortability that is at the heart of merging electricity and feeling and commerce. They have neither won nor lost, they persist. Deal with them before they put you in their sights and deal with you by ignoring what you care about. Their agenda is clear; to love, but never in the way you love. Their love is strong, willful, and brutish. make a wish, and they can make it come true.
You can pre-order your copy of the album now and we've got the premiere of the remastered "I've Got Drugs (Out of the Mist)" from it which you can listen, while reading the new Gerard Cosloy-penned press release, below.
Long before Dennis and Jimmy Flemion found themselves adopted by avatars as far flung as Jim O’Rourke and Sebastian Bach, before their Cause célèbre lead to a near-boycott (of a record label no one was buying records from anyway) and certainly before Beck Hansen had the bright idea to sample, “that was a good drum break” from “I Don’t Care If U Disrespect Me (Just So You Love Me)”, there were the songs. The goddamn Made Up Songs. On cassette tapes. Legend has it they fell into the hands of my friends and I due to the patronage of one or two midwestern underground rock luminaries but I prefer to believe it was an otherworldly intervention that first brought “Out Of The Mist” to my basement boom box (albeit on the flipside of a live Die Kreuzen recording). To call the impact seismic would be an understatement ; I’ve yet to recover!
Is it fair to say that arm-twisting the Flemions into a thematically consistent ‘It’s Only Right & Natural’ did their prior and future works a disservice? Probably. Simply because it’s one of the most inspired albums of all-time, DIY or not — doesn’t mean they peaked (if you’re inclined to investigate further, you’ll figure it out. And if you’re not inclined to investigate further, I’m pretty sure you and I have absolutely nothing to say to each other). Is it fair to say Homestead’s ill-advised attempt to claim FROGS was an acronym for “FOUNDING REVOLUTIONARIES OF GAY SUPREMACY” was a profoundly stupid gesture, guaranteed to lead to no good whatsoever? Not exactly. I don’t remember getting any advice.
All of that aside, IOR&N more than holds up as a monumental WHAT THE FUCK moment in pop history, even if it only skims the surface of the brothers’ respective skill sets and vast influences. Many of us have the album’s lyrics, Jimmy and Dennis’ vocal delivery committed to memory, though bear in mind, those in possession of the Homestead CD version only heard some bizzaro mono mix (THIS WAS SOMEONE ELSE’S FAULT, BLAME ME FOR EVERYTHING BUT THIS) so there’s every chance this might be the first time you’re hearing this glorious album the way it was truly intended. And if you are having that wondrous experience — being introduced to such a rich cast of characters (Hot Cock Annie, Baby Greaser George Richard Dick Richards), it would be an overstatement to say I envy you. But only a very slight overstatement (for instance, it might depend on what you look like and how much money you have).
LOVE YOU DENNIS, THANKS FOR EVERYTHING.
FROGS 4 EVER
Gerard Cosloy 2019