While still being at school in Hull, Paul Tognola (guitar), Doug Sheppard (vocals, guitar), Terry Hopkinson (bass) and Paul Conyers (drums) formed Ethel The Frog (named after a Monty Python sketch) in 1975. After having recorded several speculative demo tapes, the band decided to take fate in their own hands by releasing the first 7” single of their own Best Records label (in November 1978). Recorded at Fairview Studios in Hull, the single, pressed in a quantity of 500 copies, featured a heavy version of the Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” and their own composition “Whatever Happened To Love” on the flipside.
By the end of the 1970s, Ethel The Frog had gathered a pretty strong local following and started to gig all over the country, thereby gaining interest from professional labels. “We had sent EMI some of our numbers in the past,” explained Doug Sheppard to a local paper back in 1979. “But they really became interested when we were featured in the Melody Maker national ‘Rock And Folk’ competition.” Although Ethel The Frog did not reach the finals, rock DJ Neal Kay got in contact with the band to include one of their songs, “Fight Back”, on his legendary »Metal For Muthas« compilation (rubbing shoulders with Iron Maiden, Samson, Angel Witch and Praying Mantis).
EMI even went one step further by putting out a full-length ten-track album of Ethel The Frog in May 1980, featuring a selection of songs taken from a variety of recordings sessions (stretching between 1975 and 1979). In the process, the “Eleanor Rigby” 7” single was also re-issued on EMI (this time coupled with “Fight Back” on the B-Side).
When the album finally hit the shops in May 1980, Ethel The Frog had practically already disbanded.
After a final gig in early 1981, Ethel The Frog broke up for good, with Paul Tognola and Paul Conyers joining local band Salem. The official reason for the split was bassist Terry Hopkinson going to university. However, Doug Sheppard had commented at the time that he was “disenchanted with the music scene”.
1. Eleanor Rigby
2. Apple of Your Eye
3. Staying on My Mind
4. You Need Wheels
5. Bleeding Heart
6. Fight Back
7. Don’t Do It
8. Why Don’t You Ask
9. Whatever Happened to Love
10. Fire Bird