The Tape Deck Heart album by Frank Turner is, give or take a few days, eight years old as we speak. It’s also a particular favourite. The artwork is brilliant and I’m sure it’s inspired several tattoos to the FTHC. However, for me, it’s mainly because of the outstanding opening trio of songs, prompting the thought – which of Frank’s albums have the best opening trio of songs?
- TAPE DECK HEART
Recovery, Losing Days, The Way I Tend To Be
Classic opening line: “Blacking in and out in a strange flat in East London…“, the words coming thick and fast and then up to the mahoosive chorus line and (not the first) chance to jump about and yell at the top of your lungs. Very much in the same way. as Frank himself does. “It’s a long road up to re-cover-eeeee from here”
Losing Days simply rocks. It even has mandolin so I guess it folk rocks.
This opening trio probably sneaks it for me as the third of the opening trio is a favourite FT song. The way he does that drawn-out thing like on Recovery – “and then I rememmmmmmmm-beeeeeeerrrrrr you.” A totally ‘soft’ song packed with sentiment and the key song to the album – all bout relationship break-ups and the reminder to, in Frank’s words, not be a dick.
2. LOVE IRE & SONG
I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous, Reasons Not To Be An Idiot, Photosynthesis
Another classic opener: “Let’s begin at the beginning” and classic ending “Life is about love, last minutes and lost evenings.” A brilliant Frank Turner narrative and typical of how he fits so much into one song.
Love the opening guitar strums – excuse the lack of technical terms – on Reasons… Again, wonderfully phrased observations “I bet she sits at home and listens to The Smiths...” It’s the Losing Days of Love, Ire & Song.
The FT full throated singalong moment – “I won’t sit down and I won’t shut up” – comes with Photosynthesis. Another wonderful lyrical observation on life and (not love and lost evenings) but growing old. While he confesses his angry adolescent days might be done (oh yeah…?) the video is a killer as he steps into a primary school of his younger days to encourage the youngsters (and maybe a few teachers) to embrace a youthful philosophy.
3. ENGLAND KEEP MY BONES
Eulogy, Peggy Sang The Blues, I Still Believe
EKMB gets bronze in a photo finish with a couple of other (unnamed…) albums.
So as the man says amidst a Hovis advert/mournful brass soundtrack, “Not everyone grows up to be an astronaut” – yes, once again, brilliant opening line. Add the full-throated singalong moment: all of Eulogy (especially “not everyone can beeee, Freddie Mercureeee“) but particularly where you can belt out a profanity: “On the day I died, I’ll say ‘at least I f**king tried.” I’ve seen this song open a gig and it’s riotous.
Peggy Sang The Blues is more funk than blues and the tattoo inspiring quotes; “it doesn’t matter where you come from, it matters where you go” and “no-one gets remembered for the things they didn’t do.” A track that grows – musically and on you the more you hear it.
Frank Turner specialises in the anthemic, audience participation, belt-it-out-with-gusto songs. “Hear ye, hear ye…” Is this his best? Comes close and at a time when The Sleeping Souls are backing him and taking his songs into the stratosphere, this harks back to his early, folk-rock-country singer days.
And don’t forget that this album celebrates ten years on 4th June with a splendid new package, coloured vinyl and a shedload of demos and B-sides. It’s on the usual Xtra Mile label.
Of course, pick away and pull apart and apologies to Sleep Is For The Week in particular that missed out on a medal in a pho finish.
We’ll avoid the obvious ‘favourite FT song’ and go with ….Prufrock from the Live In Newcastle album: