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Friday, 7 August 2015

Positive Songs For Negative People (Deluxe) - Frank Turner (August 2015)

Positive Songs For Negative People (Deluxe) - Frank Turner
Xtra Mile Recordings
Released 7th August 2015

"Let's begin at the beginning", as Frank so wonderfully put it in his song I knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous. The title of the album is a good place to begin because more often than not it sets the scene for what's to come. Positive Songs For Negative People - it's easy being negative in the world in which we live at the moment, there are politicians who rile us to anger for their mistreatment of those struggling in our society, or there are wars in many lands that cause us to ponder how little life is valued in some of these lands as the body count is recited day by day on the news. Talking of the news that plays an increasing role in our negativity because it is loaded with "bad news" and the only time we get a good story is if they show some cuddly animal story in the final 30 seconds of the show or if England actually manage to win anything at all anywhere in the sports world (because even a win in the World Tiddlywink Championship is a win, isn't it?). So, like a number of songs by Frank Turner there is Positivity even among the Negative. Songs like Get Better, with the lines:

 "I'm trying to get better because I haven't been my best
She took a plain black marker, started writing on my chest
She drew a line across the middle of my broken heart,
And said: "Come on now, let's fix this mess"
We could get better
Because we're not dead yet"

Or in The Next Storm:

"But I don't want spend the whole of my life indoors
Laying low, waiting on the next storm
But I don't want spend the whole of my life inside
I wanna step out, and face the sunshine

So open the shutters, raise up the mast
Rejoice, rebuild, the storm has passed
Cast off the crutches, cut off the cast
Rejoice, rebuild, the storm has passed

I'm not gonna live the whole of my life indoors
I'm gonna step out, and face the next storm" 

Next up are the words "Deluxe". Thank goodness that Frank Turner and his record label Xtra Mile Recordings know exactly what that means. The album comes with a second disc of  ten Acoustic versions from the main disc, yes TEN, you did read correctly! There can be nothing so disheartening to a music fan than to decide to pick up the album and then a week later to see a release of the album as a "Deluxe Edition" and it only contains one additional song (I could point my finger here at a certain young lady called Joss Stone who has just released a brand new album - Water For Your Soul - and the Deluxe Edition only contains one extra song!). But hey, we are trying to be Positive here, so a round of applause for Frank and Xtra Mile Recordings for giving value for money with a great Deluxe Edition.

Thirdly, a wee visit to Frank's Website and it opens with an encouragement to perform Random Acts of Kindness and it's great reading some of the tweets posted on the page of people being human showing care and concern for others.

Now onto the music. I decided I'm gonna go through track by track and just say a few things about them, not necessarily serious. If you want to read a proper review then there are a couple of links at the bottom of the page.

The Angel Islington
Oh that's a quiet start. Sounds like Frank walked in the room pulled up a box and started playing this beautiful little tune about how messed up he is and how he intends to fix himself. Nothing to do with the Tube Station at all!

Get Better
I liked this one when I first heard it awhile ago. Another one about getting fixed (no not that kind of fix), old Frank must go through a lot of gaffer tape holding himself together.

The Next Storm
There's always one or two tracks on a Frank Turner album that absolutely thrill me to bits and this is it. For the record here are the others: on Tape Deck Heart it was Polaroid Picture; England Keep My Bones - I Still Believe (and I am Disappeared); Poetry of the Deed - The Road; and Love Ire and Song - Reasons Not To Be An Idiot (and Photosynthesis). Rejoice, rebuild, the storm has passed - that's going to be my favourite line for the summer I think.

The Opening Act of Spring
Quite a cheery tune for such a lyrically traumatic song. But I have to say that sometimes when Frank does these type of songs he does sound like he's straining his voice too much. He's probably never used autotune in his life and I wouldn't want him to start.

Glorious You
This is another one that I really like. Great lyrics and a nice rocking tune. "C'mon now if we all pull together we can lift up the weight of the world from your shoulders just for a moment or two".

Not too sure about this one. Sounds like he's trying too hard and it's a bit shouty! Next play of the album I'd probably skip it...sorry Frank.
Out of Breath
I can imagine that this one is going to go down a storm live as it's one of those mad thrashy type of songs, the piano work on is brilliant though. I feel knackered listening to it!

Mmm. not overly keen on this one, I'm always a bit perplexed when he encroaches on territory that deals with God and the Devil/Hell etc. I'm sure he gets a kick out of singing "I make my own way down to hell without your help" and "Life gave me demons but I made friends with the devil so I'm invincible" and personally I find it hard to believe him. If he was a member of a Black Metal band maybe, but not cuddly Frank Turner! I know others will like it but it's not for me.

I think Frank has set himself up for every girl fan called Josephine to "show herself" to him and "give" him what he "needs"...maybe a stalker alert or two on the way Mr Turner! Not a fan of this one either.

Love Forty Down
This one conjours up the image of our Frank playing tennis! I know bizzare image isn't it? Our tattooed troubadour in his summer whites with a racquet instead of a guitar guzzling a bottle of Robinsons Lemon Barley! Maybe he was watching Andy Murray play or something! I like it because it's all the quirky things you like about his songs, this feeling of inferiority and need to rise about the difficulties even in the face of difficult odds.

Silent Key
Interesting one this as it deals with the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster in 1986 and in particular Christa McAuliffe. This is Turner writing at his best I think about someone and a situation that is very very real (though being the ham radio guy is obviously not real). Whilst not the typical sing-a-long with Frank it's an interesting song to have on the album about overcoming loss, defeating storms etc and giving a voice to someone who no longer has a voice herself.

Song For Josh
A very moving tribute to a friend. A live recording at the club that Josh Burdette used to work at in the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C.

All the links below are not necessarily for the song as they appear on the album, some are, but others maybe live versions etc. Click on the links to enjoy the songs.

Disc One
1.     "The Angel Islington"       2:26
2.     "Get Better"       2:46
3.     "The Next Storm"       3:34
4.     "The Opening Act of Spring"       3:00
5.     "Glorious You"       3:15
6.     "Mittens"       4:30
7.     "Out of Breath"       2:06
8.     "Demons"       4:05
9.     "Josephine "      3:22
10.     "Love Forty Down"       2:30
11.     "Silent Key"       4:40
12.     "Song for Josh"       3:28

Disc Two
 1.     "Get Better" (acoustic version)     2:50
2.     "The Next Storm" (acoustic version)     3:34
3.     "The Opening Act of Spring" (acoustic version)     3:20
4.     "Glorious You" (acoustic version)     3:51
5.     "Mittens" (acoustic version)     4:18
6.     "Out of Breath" (acoustic version)     2:00
7.     "Demons" (acoustic version)     4:26
8.     "Josephine" (acoustic version)     3:29
9.     "Love Forty Down" (acoustic version)     2:35
10.     "Silent Key" (acoustic version)     4:26

There is a bonus track on itunes if you had pre-ordered it called Old Flames (the link here is for a version performed with Billy the Kid. 

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