Unruly Child - Reigning Frogs: The Box Set Collection album review

AOR cult heroes, and heroine: 1998-2014

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It’s now 25 years since Unruly Child’s self-titled debut album, a melodic rock masterpiece, was lost in the shuffle when grunge hit big. Since then, the American band have had a tangled history, as documented by this peculiarly titled six-disc box set.

It begins with the 1998 album Waiting For The Sun, featuring singer Kelly Hansen, now of Foreigner, in place of the band’s original vocalist Mark Free. Released at a time when AOR was still in the margins, it sounds like Nevermind never happened, with Hansen clearly destined for bigger things.

The Basement Demos is a highquality work-in-progress version of that mythical debut album, with a sister DVD including band interviews, live tracks and outtakes. UCIII, from 2003, had another singer, Philip Bardowell, and a harder rock edge.

But for the 2010 album Worlds Collide, the original line-up reunited with Free, who, having changed gender, was now Marcie. With this album and the follow-up Down The Rabbit Hole – first issued in 2014 via their website – the band returned to their classic sound.

And the story of Unruly Child doesn’t end here. Their new album, Can’t Go Home, is among the best of this year.