Jackson C. Frank - Jackson C. Frank
1 CD(s) - Folk - Label: Sanctuary - Distributor: Universal Music, PIAS UK/Arvato Services - Released: 01/08/2013 - 5050159136629
34 reviews from the community
Review of "Jackson C. Frank - Jackson C. Frank"
Best wishes to all, and thanks for your kind rates and comments, have been half-expecting the latest announcement for at least the last year. Have thoroughly enjoyed being a member over the last couple of years or so.
PLEASE IGNORE THE TRAVESTY THAT THIS ALBUM IS SOMEHOW LINKED TO A “STEPS” ALBUM ON CIAO – IT’S A GENUINE ERROR, NO DOUBT, BUT, ALTHOUGH THERE ARE APPARENTLY ALREADY 33 REVIEWS OF THIS ALBUM BY JACKSON C FRANK, THIS IS IN FACT THE FIRST!ALSO..
Sadly, music reviews aren’t only exempt from Diamond awards and Premium Fund – like books – but don’t earn a single penny either for the writing or for any rating received.
I think Ciao is the poorer for the absence of music reviews, and despite earning no money for writing them, I still want to recommend some worthwhile listening.++++++++++
Born in 1943, he was both severely traumatised and badly burned in a school fire at the age of 11. Fifteen classmates, died, including his then childhood girlfriend. His teacher brought a guitar to his hospital bed to help him occupy himself. Elvis was his guitar hero and he had the good fortune, on a visit to Graceland at the age of 13, to have his photo taken next to his hero!
Jackson C Frank’s story is enough to make a grown man weep. It also explains the power of his songs, and it’s a pity that he is so little known.
An insurance cheque funded a trip to England, where he soon became a part of the booming ‘60s folk scene. He liked flashy cars but largely avoided drink and drug excesses, and was generous towards musical colleagues who struggled financially.His songs are sad, but not dripping with self-pity. He played a Martin (acoustic) guitar, which was unusual in such a setting, such prize American instruments being too pricey for most of his contemporaries. His short hair and closely-shaved face also stood out!
Folk legend John Renbourn said he was “knocked out whenever he heard (Frank) play”. It wasn’t long, though, before Frank’s mental state again became unstable. He returned to America and was briefly married to a former model. His son died of cystic fibrosis, the marriage broke down, and Frank was hospitalised with acute depression.Renbourn visited him and was shocked at his friend’s appearance and state of mind. He had been living rough before hospitalisation, and had even been blinded in one eye by some youngsters taking pot shots with an air rifle. Thyroid trouble had also led to a big weight increase.
A fan later helped him to find accommodation, and encouraged him to perform and record sporadically again. He died of pneumonia and cardiac arrest, aged 55, in 1999.It’s possible that he found a measure of satisfaction in his later years as his talents became more recognised.
The albumI bought this on the strength of hearing a live “Blues Run The Game” by blues guitarist Rory Block. This album comes in a jewel case, and consists of 15 songs, with a playing time of minutes.
The first 10 songs formed his original recording on vinyl; there are a further 5 bonus tracks. One, “Marlene”, is about his childhood girlfriend who died in the fire (“The ghost of her floats over there... We were so young…”)The 12-page booklet outlines his life and career. Its front and back are reproduced from the original vinyl.
~ ~ ~ ~ Blues Run The Game ~ ~ ~ ~
The album begins with his most successful song (covered by the likes of Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Sandy Denny, and Paul Simon, who produced the album).
“Catch a boat to England baby, maybe to Spain
Wherever I have gone
Wherever I’ve been and gone,
Wherever I have gone,
The blues are all the same.
When I’m not drinking, baby, you are on my mind,
When I’m not sleeping, honey,
When I’m not sleeping, momma,
When I’m not sleeping you know you’ll find me crying
Wherever I have played,
Wherever I’ve thrown them dice,
Wherever I have played,
the blues have run the game.”
I’d have to say that, to me, this is far and away the best track on the album, and worth the purchase of the album.
It ends with a repeat of the first verse, preceded by the hope that when he’s older, things will be better.
This protest song (about racism and violence), was apparently by a shooting in Alabama. Frank’s voice is clear, strong, and impassioned against the strummed accompaniment.
~ ~ ~ ~ Don’t Look Back ~ ~ ~ ~
This is a traditional love song from the perspective of a prisoner who may even be there because of his lover. After the anger of “Don’t Look Back”, this is a gentle, sorrowful song to a nimble, understated guitar accompaniment. I like Frank’s clear voice again, with some well delivered glissando (sliding) notes.
~ ~ ~ ~ Kimbie ~ ~ ~ ~
Sung to a guitar that is part strummed, part picked with runs and licks of single notes, this is a thought-provoking song. Frank reflects in the original notes, “How many of us are running without moving, hiding behind walls grown from the dim recesses of birth?”
~ ~ ~ ~ Yellow Walls ~ ~ ~ ~
A slow but melodic bluesy song, I love the feel of this, and the adept playing: “Here comes lonely, here comes the blues…”
~ ~ ~ ~ Here Come The Blues ~ ~ ~ ~
The notes describe this as “probably closest to the writer’s heart, for it speaks of a dire necessity too often misunderstood for comfort.” It’s another moving song, but less melodic than some of the others.
~ ~ ~ ~ I Want To Be Alone ~ ~ ~ ~
Despite its simple tune and apparently simplistic lyrics, Frank states in the notes on the rear cover that this isn’t a children’s song. It alludes to some important issues, including death.
~ ~ ~ ~ Just Like Anything ~ ~ ~ ~
Concluding comments4 stars from me. An album that needs to be listened to carefully rather than played as background, and the simple arrangement (apart from one track where Al Stewart plays additional guitar it is one man and one acoustic guitar) won’t appeal to all.
It’s beyond doubt that the original 10 songs are superior to his other work, but the bonus tracks have a reasonable amount to offer.I confess to finding some of the songs spellbinding; others I’m less keen on, but this is partly down to personal preference, and even those that I like less are thought-provoking and moving nonetheless.
I LIKE…~ ~ Frank’s voice. It’s clear and strong, surprising perhaps given that he was so nervous when recording that he stood behind a screen and had to psyche himself up for each song.
~ ~ the melodies, which are tuneful and often memorable~ ~ the lyrics. At times evocative, at others a little mystical or mysterious, they are well penned and very poignant
~ ~ I really feel that the better songs in particular are greater than the sum of their parts, and that Frank weaves a spell with them
I’M LESS KEEN ON…
~ ~ I find the songs of variable quality, and some don’t do much for me~ ~ on the other hand, as stated above, all are thought-provoking and worth listening to
Amazon sell this (2008 Re-mastered) for £5.89 (CD), MP3 £7.99. Other editions are available, including an “Expanded Deluxe version” for £10.07; Zavvi sell the 2008 edition for £6.49. personally, I think that the 2008 re-master is the one to go for as it seems a more fitting tribute to original vinyl recording.
Product Information : Jackson C. Frank - Jackson C. Frank
Manufacturer's product description1 CD(s) - Folk - Label: Sanctuary - Distributor: Universal Music, PIAS UK/Arvato Services - Released: 01/08/2013 - 5050159136629
Listed on Ciao since: 18/03/2005