As I have said, one cool thing about doing Music Diary Reviews is the contacts with various music folks, from established artists to young upcoming players. But one item came in a round-about way through Judie the other day that simply screamed out for me to check it out. If that sounds ambiguous, it is intentional – we had no idea if it was going to be good or crap!
Here is the message Judie got:
Free Billy Franks (Your FourSquare Friend) Compilation Album Download
As I am relatively new to FourSquare, I thought I would offer all my new found comrades a copy of my free compilation album, Euphoria. It contains 12 songs from 6 albums, spanning 2 decades.
“Penning classics and garnering praise from Bono, Peter Gabriel and Oasis” THE GUARDIAN
“Song writing from the top drawer” TIME OUT
“Imagine the craftsmanship of McCartney combined with the power of a young Springsteen and you’ll know what I mean” Q MAGAZINE
There is also an introduction by best selling novelist Christopher Brookmyre.
Please go and help yourself.
What was immediately interesting was that it looked like a bulk sent personal message at first, but quickly became clear that it was just a PR push. This is more evident heading to his site, as the free compilation is prominently displayed from the main page. Of course, looking at his ‘music’ page shows he has a new recording ‘Turtledove Boutique’ released in September of last year … so the timing also makes sense. Regardless I was intrigued – I had never heard of Billy Franks, but saw that his recordings ranged all the way back to 1990. It was definitely worth at least giving a listen!
Summary: Apparently Billy Franks was the leader of a 80’s Brit-pop group called the Faith Brothers, who had some chart success in the UK and had a successful tour in 1985 with The Alarm, a group I definitely knew about, and one my wife still has on tape. Since then Franks has released a half-dozen singer-songwriter recordings across the last two decades and has maintained a loyal following as evidenced byon .
I listened to it myself, with my son for a bit, and finally all the way through again with my wife as we sat drinking wine while dinner cooked the other night. Every song had one or the other of us saying ‘this song reminds me of …’. From Echo & the Bunnymen, fellow Brit-poppers Lilac Time and Railway Children (two faves of my wife’s from the late 80’s), Radiohead’s ‘High & Dry’, the Beautiful South, and even some of Pete Townshend’s solo work.
As reflected in the promo message, Billy Franks evokes comparisons to some pretty famous folks across a diverse range of popular music – so how come you don’t know him? My wife said that if we happened upon a pub and he was playing we would want to stay for the entire thing and greatly enjoy it – but probably not buy the CD on sale at a table in the front. The songs are well written and well done, but every song that we were reminded of eclipsed Franks’ songs. For example, as I was reminded of Echo & the Bunnymen frontman Ian McCulloch’s Candleland recording – I wanted to hear THAT, not one of Billy Franks songs.
But at the same time, when I asked my wife about the music (this is definitely her ‘type’ of stuff, which is exactly what my older son said ‘this sounds like something Mom would like’), she didn’t want it on her iPod, but said I should add it to the 80’s and 90’s collection mix on my larger iTunes library, so at parties and other times it would be in rotation.
That says something about Billy Franks – in the UK he clearly has some loyal fans and lovers of his music, but even abroad his music can definitely find a new set of listeners. And of course a free sampler will definitely help him get people checking out his stuff!
Choice Track (and why): Genius & Grace – the title track from Billy Franks’ 1993 record is poignant without being overwrought. It is a pretty tune with just the right touch in terms of vocals and instrumentation. Actually I liked both selections from this recording.
You Might Love This If: You like late 80’s / early 90’s Brit-pop, singer-songwriter music … you just might find something here! No matter what – check out the free sampler!
Here is a video of the charity song ‘The Beautiful Game’, supporting Prince Harry’s charity, Sentebale, that cares for vulnerable children in Lesotho, Africa.: