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Frank Turner

Filling the void left by anti-folk celebrity BILLY BRAGG, who’d curtailed his recording schedule somewhat since the millennium, punky singer-songwriter FRANK TURNER (born Francis Edward Turner, 28 December 1981 in Manama, Bahrain) was indeed searching for his “New England”; he was raised in Meonstoke (a village in Hampshire) by his relatively well-off parents and went to Eton College at the same time as Prince William.
Railing against society from within, Frank spent time as lead singer in a couple of London’s new breed of post-hardcore outfits, Kneejerk and Anglo-Aussies MILLION DEAD, the latter was a popular quartet with several singles and a couple of albums under their belt: `A Song To Ruin’ (2003) and `Harmony No Harmony’ (2005); FT’s mother Jane (a headmistress and daughter of a bishop) guested on the latter set.
After kick-starting his societal subversive solo sojourn via the appropriately-titled 6-song EP `Campfire Punkrock’ in 2006 (not forgetting the odd split single), TURNER and his indie-rock backers Dive Dive (formerly The UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH) toured in support of his much-touted debut set SLEEP IS FOR THE WEEK (2007) {*6}; radio play-listed at the time were folk-rock singles `The Real Damage’ and `Vital Signs’.
With Ben Lloyd from Dive Dive at the controls and a tour supporting Andy Yorke (brother of RADIOHEAD’s Thom), BIFFY CLYRO and yourcodenameis: milo, things looked ever so bright as his second set LOVE IRE & SONG (2008) {*8} cracked the UK Top 75 and led him on to the roster of tasty American punk imprint Epitaph; a serious bout of gastroenteritis however led to gig cancellations at the end of the year and his growing influx of fans missing out on modern-day classics such as `Reasons Not To Be An Idiot’, `Photosynthesis’ and charity single `Long Live The Queen’. Time here to mention a few of his cover versions: The LEMONHEADS’ `Outdoor Type’, the old nugget `You Are My Sunshine’, SPRINGSTEEN’s `Thunder Road’ and ABBA’s `Dancing Queen’.
Polished and produced by NAILBOMB leader Alex Newport, POETRY OF THE DEED (2009) {*8} was Frank’s inaugural Top 40 entry in Britain, an anthem-fuelled semi-classic for the country’s disillusioned and politically-minded youth awaiting a new OASIS, LEVELLERS or STIFF LITTLE FINGERS; his punk background was definitely on show by way of `Live Fast Die Old’ (hardly a folk song), plus `Dan’s Song’, `The Road’ and `Richard Divine’.
Whether throwing a domestic cat into the audience (at the 02 Academy in Oxfordshire on the 23rd June 2011) was a great idea to promote his UK Top 20 fourth album ENGLAND KEEP MY BONES {*8}, but it certainly kicked up a stir among animal protection groups. Of the album, ballad-y tracks were laced with all the familiar traits of folk’s new-kid-on-the-block, one song in particular `Peggy Sang The Blues’ was a dedication to the memory of his granny, while two of the most infectious songs (`If Ever I Stray’ and `Wessex Boys’) were co-penned by loyal band member Nigel Powell.
Quite the shy celebrity of late, the man for the people struck gold again on 2013’s TAPE DECK HEART {*6}. What BILLY BRAGG would give to encapsulate his halcyon days of yore, but with the blue-collar poet now filling his nostalgic boots in a swagger that BB could barely have managed even way back in the 80s, TURNER was the new darling. Produced by a guy more at home with star bands such as MUSE, JANE’S ADDICTION and MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE: Rich Costey, the set saw Frank peel away the punk-y pub-rock layers to express himself in humour and heartfelt passion on `Recovery’, `Good & Gone’, `The Fisher King Blues’ and his idolatrous paean to a certain KISS general by way of `Wherefore Art Thou Gene Simmons’.
Fist-pumping folk-punk or acoustic anthems for the empowered youth of the day, POSITIVE SONGS FOR NEGATIVE PEOPLE (2015) {*7} exemplified TURNER’s thrust and spirit in a dozen earthy songs. From the cleansing and introspective `The Angel Islington’ to the emotionally rousing `Song For Josh’, heartache and pain are still within the man’s life-compass, but then in the rebellious `Get Better’, `Glorious You’, `Demons’ and the visceral `Out Of Breath’ (`Silent Key’ has all the traits of a PAVEMENT piece), the Top 3 TURNER tracks the truth with the weight of the world still upon his shoulders.
© MC Strong 2011/GFD2 // rev-up MCS Apr2013-Aug2015

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