The Frogs It’s Only Right and Natural 30th Anniversary Vinyl Reissue. Originally released in 1989 on Homestead Records.
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 flilpside 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).