If this little reprise of my old life is like an addendum post scriptum of a mixtape for a website that died more than one Halloween ago (there’ s a fantastic sci-fi horror thriller to be had out of clues and cyphers left unnoticed on the internet in dead blogs. I’m sure of it) then here’s the closing track to this last (or latest last) chapter. The one that runs down to the run out groove (if you’re thinking more like it’s a soundtrack album for 2022).
Frank Turner. He was very very popular when the site was a live entity. Alive! Alive!!!
Hearts on fire down the wire. The crusty old rock and roll dude who won’t lay down and die keeps on listening and popping his head back up. I’ve alluded to my recent reanimation being something of a Mary Shelley move in other posts. I’m part Ghost of Christmas Past and part Robert DeNiro in heavy prosthetics with a flute. But I’m pure of rock and roll heart. Even if “The bugs serve time in my
(digital) skeletal jail”
OK, enough Eulogising my own Eulogy. Frank Turner ended his lockdown by “Coming out of his cage” with the previously discussed The Gathering and Non Serviam way back in the before time. We got this. The album was preceded by a competition launched on social media to design him a new logo. Fans went to their pens, pads and whatnots to to deliver multitudes of variants of 5 letters already very familiar to the Lost Evenings Crowd.
After the pent up pre-release of The Gathering and then the frustrated rage of Non Serviam, It was amazing to me that the song that really resonated on the first day of album release (when we finally got it) was single number three. The star turn Haven’t Been Doing So Well. If ever there was an anthem for the here an now. This is it. 2022 in a song.
Elsewhere on the record Frank confronts his addictions and his demons and his Dad’s failings and (WAIT this is huge!) then his Dad’s coming out as transgender. The emotional journey from Untainted Love trough Fatherless then My Bad to Miranda is a fucking punk rock boxset of emotions. Holy shit, there’s a lot going on here. I can’t relate to all of it but I have empathy and I love to rock out so I’m in and I’m into it.
What a sequence of songs. What a ‘warts and all’ performer Turner is. It’s all the more powerful for what happens next. This I can relate to. We’ve all lost a friend to something dark by the time we got to my age. A Wave Across A Bay is a wonderful way to try and understand why they went there and why they never came home.
Grant him some indulgences, The Resurrectionists revisits the same crew who Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous on Love Ire and Song all those years ago. Punches sounds like the Wessex Boy of Plain Sailing Weather and Get Better is still out there plugging away. Perfect Score targets the shitty distractions that get between us and our peace in the modern world. He’s right ‘no one has a perfect score’. Frank puts in The Work and owns his shortcomings in that world before, he then eulogises a little himself on Little Life. Little Life is the albums cross over hit. Not a long while after the album release there was a do-over duet version with KT Tunstall on second mic. Little Life went from The Radio 1 Rock Show to daytime play on BBC Radio 2. He did that growing up I worried about back in the There She Is days and now… I’m fine with it. He deserves it. So do we. It’s OK. We can still… Hang on. You’ll see.
Farewell To My City. Here it is. The Closing track. Of Course. It’s about London. My London. Frank’s London. But Let’s pretend it’s about turning in. About getting old. About songs and iPods and websites and saying hello to your old friends, just to share a drink or a story or two and then say goodbye. If the site is my city. And the Theme Weeks the neighbourhoods. The Pages the eras and you, Dear Reader the citizens. Well. I must be a pretentious wanker after all.
The song though. It’s more a slam poetry reading over a swelling Britrock grind than a ditty. The drum beat and bass line owe a lot to The Hold Steady’s debut album closer Killer Parties. I think that’s intentional. If you know the places he’s talking about it’s potent word play has you in it’s palm. Until the watershed chorus. At that point some might get a lump in the throat or something in their eye. Turners references are uniquely his. Nambucca was a big part of Franks Wild Years. He feels about it the way I did about The Astoria (I’m a little bit older). Still, to quote the comedic holy text “Don’t look for it, It’s not there anymore”. The Biz and the Man put Nambucca out of business in 2022. For the final show there, Frank came home.
Rhyming FOMO with Soho and describing the highs and lows of a decade of misspending ones youth and still finding “Alexander Palace on the next rise, arms open like an old friend” Turner takes his place alongside Sir John Betjeman, Ian Dury and all the other London Week alumni with this late late entry.
Frank’s album was the first new release I bought on wax this year. There were some pretty huge forever changes for my city, my country and me in 2022. FTHC has been playing along with me like the radio DJ in Vanishing Point or the interludes on Detroit Rock City, Songs For The Deaf, Out Of The Blue, The Fog and Danger Days.
“Does anybody out there read me? Disco sucks, kill all hippies. Pretty vacant, eh? Subvert normality. Signing off. This is Gorgeous! Signing off!”
I’ll be baaaaaaa…
5 thoughts on “Farewell To My City – Frank Turner”
A Wave Across The Bay is a song that will always bring tears to my eyes. I think most hipster millennials like me have a special place in our hearts for Scott Hutchinson.
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I need to catch up on Frank, but so happy for his success! It seems an age ago since I (literally) saw him play a gig in a cafe-like-bar-in-a-bus-station where the stage was one of those on the floor in front of you. I’ll check these out!
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It’s always great having you back. Till next time.
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I haven’t really been keeping up very well with your blog posts this time around, but it’s been nice to have you back.
Love Frank – and well said about the emotional journey on this one, Steve