Frank Turner takes a rare moment to look back at his incredible career
Frank Turner – Songbook (Xtra Mile Recordings)
Genre – Folk Punk
After six albums, and ten years as a solo artist, a greatest hits album was a natural step for Frank Turner. And, for a man with a catalogue full of arena ready anthems, it’s safe to say that Frank has earned the right to release a compilation of the sort.
But, as always with Frank Turner, he believes in giving his fans the maximum experience with his music, and Songbook comes complete with a new track (The She Is) and a B-side filled with 10 reworked classics.
Disc one contains some of Frank’s best work over the last ten years, with fan favourites such as Photosynthesis, Four Simple Words, The Road, Long Live The Queen and I Still Believe, and is a pretty comprehensive guide to what you’d expect to see from one of his live shows.
For fans, it’s great to have so many big hitters on one disc, and for new fans, this is a great place to start your Frank Turner journey. This is a complete cross section of Frank’s work, and if it doesn’t grab your attention, you probably want to ask yourself some serious questions about your music taste!
With disc two, fans are treated 10 very different versions of some great tracks. These aren’t just stripped back acoustic tracks; they’re reworked, rearranged and they’ve been introduced to a host of new sonic and vocal inspirations.
From the chilling harmonies on The Way I Tend To Be to the exposed rendition of Josephine, which crescendos into an honest, powerful finish, Frank’s reworked material is zealously gripping. Throughout Songbook, there’s an isolated rawness to the songs, an added sense of emotion that’s very different to the pacey tempo of the original studio recordings.
For years, Frank has stated that a song only really becomes his own after around a year of playing. And, for Frank Turner, that means 365 days of solid graft. That’s a lot of work, a lot of tweaks and a lot of attachment to each song.
Over the years, fans will have noticed how The Ballad of Me and My Friends and Long Live The Queen have significantly changed from their album versions to their stage versions. The Songbook versions of these tracks are much closer to their current live versions, with The Ballad Of Me and My Friends being slowed down, and Long Live The Queen being sped up into a more punky, defiant number fitting of his lost friend.
Glorious You’s finger picking style, eminent of Santana’s Spanish guitar, is aptly infectious in a soothing sound that is far removed for the heart racing original. Similarly, Polaroid Picture takes a very different, but very interesting direction, with Frank overlaying his vocals with a harmony sang by himself to create a gloomy, moody sound.
With 29 tracks on offer, Frank Turner has taken a rare moment in a non stop career to look back and appreciate his body of work, and fans should do the same. Few other artists can match the work rate, creative flow and consistency produced Frank Turner produces year on year, and this is an excellent representation of everything he stands for.
RUSHONROCK RATED – 9/10 We’re definitely going to hell, but we’ll have all the best stories to tell!
Northumbria University Journalism graduate, rock and roll enthusiast and co-editor of RUSHONROCK.com.