Release Date: Jan 24, 2012
Record label: Xtra Mile Recordings
Genre(s): Folk, Pop/Rock
Review Summary: If you can picture Frank Turner singing "Build Me Up Buttercup" with a bitter and frustrated tone, you can almost imagine the brilliance of his new "rarities" compilation . Much as I adore England Keep My Bones, I think I might finally understand why some people prefer Love, Ire & Song and even, dare I say, why a few actively dislike Frank Turner's 2011 release. I hadn't realised these things until I listened to The Second Three Years, Turner's patchwork quilt of B-sides and covers from the second half of his career as a solo artist.
Rounding off an impressive 12 months that have seen him score his first Top 20 album on the fourth time of trying and announce a surprising tour date at Wembley Arena, folk-punk troubadour Frank Turner raids his prolific archive of "odds 'n' sods" yet again for his second alternative compilation, The Second Three Years. Featuring material plucked from various sessions that didn't make it onto 2009's Poetry of the Deed and 2011's commercial breakthrough England Keep My Bones (although three tracks from the latter's deluxe edition also appear here), the 23-track collection includes B-sides ("Sailor's Boots," "Mr. Richards"), four songs from his 2010 Rock & Roll EP, and live performances recorded both at the Union Chapel ("Father's Day") and Shepherds Bush Empire (an a cappella rendition of traditional folk standard "Barbara Allen").
Against the current climate of anticapitalist sentiment being writ large on a grand, global scale and the difficulties of the ongoing recession highlighting that perhaps, just maybe, there are some downsides to basing most of western culture and economics on encouraging consumerism and living off credit rather than actually making stuff, it may seem crass to draw a parallel between bands/artists and branded goods. But to take the long, cynical view for a moment, they are both commodities of a kind. You have the Rihannas and One Directions of this world, who produce mass disposable pop, that looks like nice, shiny plastic when it’s fresh off the factory line but doesn’t age well – like a cheap ly made but overpriced pair of ‘on trend’ 5-inch heels from River Island that’ll break the third time you wear them.
In a little under three months, Frank Turner will play to twelve and a half thousand people at Wembley Arena. Billy Bragg will be supporting him. It'll appear neatly symbolic; the old guard of political songwriting handing over to….to what? To a new wave of socially-informed acoustic music? To a fresh-faced young man taking politics to arenas? In many ways, Bragg will be passing the baton to someone exactly like him: a Home Counties liberal who holds dear an idyllicised vision of a past England.