The Piccadilly Bullfrogs

The Piccadilly Bullfrogs

The Piccadilly Bullfrogs are Danny Brittain on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Pete Davenport on lead guitar and backing vocals and Tim ‘Trundle’ Purkess on string bass and backing vocals.
Recently, Shaun O’Keeffe (Red Hot, Keytones, Stargazers) joined them as their permanent fourth member on drums. Tim told us a little bit more about that project.

piccadilly bullfrogs
Danny Brittain, Tim Purkess and Peter Davenport

“I’ve spent a large part of the last thirty years playing Big Beat Rock’n’Roll, Swing-Jive, etc, in five and six piece bands and although I still love that kind of thing, I had a real urge to re-visit the material which first switched me onto the whole scene. I had a bunch of Essex recordings from Bill Haley and The Saddlemen/Comets, plus some of those wonderful SUN 45s all of which happened to be tucked away inside a big valve radiogram given to me by my uncle Mick, when I was only just in my teens. This mixture of primitive Rockabilly and very early R’n’R made a huge impression on me and changed my life forever, although I rarely got the chance to play it on stage. So, as we were having a much needed break from The Stargazers, I finally decided it was time to put things right and I’m very glad that I did. The trio format is really much more flexible than people imagine and because of its size, the process of writing and arranging new material is totally streamlined.
Especially when you’re lucky enough to be teamed up with major talents like Danny and Pete!
Once, I casually mentioned my desire to form an old-school trio to Dan and to my delight he was ready to sign up for it straight away! Peter was the obvious choice for guitarist and I seem to recall calling him that same day. Happily, his reaction was the same as Danny’s.
In terms of style and ethos, The Piccadilly Bullfrogs is quite closely related to the “spit and sawdust” pub bands we played in before things really started taking off in the early/mid eighties.
As Peter so rightly pointed out the other day, folks now have a tendency to over-intellectualise. Then in dissecting the songs to find out how they work, they miss the point entirely! As I see it, this isn’t the type of music that demands any in depth analysis. If it doesn’t speak directly to the soul – either the band aren’t up to the job, or the audience haven’t let the music into their heart. In short, the beauty of these old tunes is that they work on such a fundamental level. They don’t need the fussy, complicated treatments that the larger R’n’R dance bands are obliged to use.
We have been influenced by a great variety of old Rockabilly, R’n’R, Bluegrass, Hillbilly, Skiffle, R’n’B, and Country artists (with perhaps just the very very lightest hint of Gypsy Jazz in there somewhere).
I think we should leave it to others to define our sound. Hopefully (if we’re doing things right) it will be reminiscent of all the genres mentioned earlier – but at the same time different. If we haven’t brought anything new to the equation, we may as well give up now!”

The Piccadilly Bullfrogs - Hoppers, Boppers & Rockers
The Piccadilly Bullfrogs – Hoppers, Boppers & Rockers

The Piccadilly Bullfrogs – Hoppers, Boppers, & Rockers

Rhythm Bomb CD RBR 5722 {2011}
Move Around – Cutthroat Joe – Boppin` The Blues – Banksy – Wildcat Tamer – No Time To Lose – Sunshine Hop – I Could Have Been Somebody – The Ace Boogie – Right String Baby – Don`t Hold Back – Ride Ride Ride

Two guitars, one double bass, and tons of talent. The debut album of the Piccadilly Bullfrogs features 12 tracks, eight originals, and four covers entirely recorded in single takes with no overdub, in glorious mono on an old tape machine with a “ridiculously cheap and nasty microphone.” So you’ve been warned if you expect slick production that comes from a multi-track studio and lots of overdubs, this album is not for you. But if you dig music that breathes life, with raw edges that takes you back to the glorious days of Sun or Meteor, jump on this one. The instrumentation is almost entirely acoustic with just what I suppose to be a small amp for the electric guitar. The Piccadilly Bullfrogs are pure and unadulterated rockabilly. The songs are varied and very well crafted too, from Cutthroat Joe (that sounds like Carl Perkins, Tommy Steele and the Three Penny Opera all rolled into one) to the skiffle tinged sound of Ride, Ride, Ride and lots of boppin’ in between, including a tribute to the famous Ace Café in the form of a boogie (The Ace Boogie). No need to say that with their combined experience, the musicianship is top-notch too. Davenport plays inventive solos one after another and also delivers an excellent instrumental titled Sunshine Hop, while Brittain and Purkess provide the beat.

The Piccadilly Bullfrogs - Rockabilly Gentlemen
The Piccadilly Bullfrogs – Rockabilly Gentlemen

The Piccadilly Bullfrogs – Rockabilly Gentlemen

On The Hill Records ‎– OTHRCD-18 [2014]
Get With It!- Baby Don’t Care About Me – Rock The Joint – Domino – Rockin’ Chair On The Moon – Summertime

This limited six-track ep was released to coincide with a Japanese tour the band did in 2014. There’s no significant departure in terms of sound from the band’s debut album: it’s the same mix of raw rockabilly mixed with skiffle and early Rock’n’roll (think Bill Haley’s Saddlemen). It’s full of energy and very lively, two things that too often lack when you listen to modern bands. It contains two originals, one by Tim Purkess and another by Danny Britain. The four covers being two of Haley’s classics (Rock The Joint and Rockin’ Chair to the Moon), Roy Orbison’s Domino, and Gershwin’s Summertime.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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