The Third Three YearsXtra Mile Recordings
By Steven Farkas
Frank Turner’s latest record, The Third Three Years is an 18 track collection of previously unreleased material, including covers, live versions and demos which should help keep fans happy while he and the sleeping souls work on the follow up to 2013’s Tape Deck Heart, currently being recorded in Nashville with Butch Walker. It is also the follow up to the First and Second Three Year Collections, released back in 2008 and 2011 respectively
The first bunch of songs are really good fun, kicking off with a studio version of the Queen classic Somebody to Love. It’s hard not to love this as the original is a great song and Frank really does it justice. Hits & Mrs (from the Losing Days EP) is a classic B-side, interesting in some ways, but mostly forgettable, save for the cool little mandolin intro while both Sweet Albion Blues and Riot Song, the former a Dylan-esque romp through the regions and towns of the UK, while the latter is a well crafted story about the London riots and lyrics like ‘Anger mixed with greed without a plan’ tell you exactly where he stood on the debate.
A couple of cool duets follow, with Emily Barker for her song Fields of June, where Frank’s simple, yet haunting guitar really complement the vocal. Happy New Year, a super fun holiday ditty sung with Jon Snodgrass (of Drag The River).
Something of Freedom, a track from the Tape Deck Heart sessions is a little pedestrian, as is the cover of the Tom Petty track American Girl but then There are Bad Times Just Around the Corner, a quick little folk tune takes us on another journey around the UK, namechecking towns from Berwick to Tunbridge wells. The juxtaposition of the upbeat music works well against a darker story being told through lyrics like ‘ If England is a garden, then we ought to have more manure’.
The covers keep coming, with both The Weakerthans and Townes Van Zandt being given a respectable outing on Bigfoot and Pancho & Lefty before full acoustic versions of Live And Let Die and Springsteen’s Born To Run, really blow everything that came before it out of the water.
The record heads into the home stretch with 3 acoustic versions of tracks from Tape Deck Heart, Plain Sailing Weather, Tell Tale Signs and The Way I Tend To Be, performed with aplomb alongside Matt Nasir of the Sleeping Souls, all of which have enough live energy to differentiate them from the studio versions.
Finally the record ends on a brilliant high, with an excellent live edition of The Ballad of me and my Friends and a punked up version of Dan’s Song.
With The Third Three Years, Frank Turner has really succeeded in providing a good cross section of fan favourites and genuinely rare and unreleased material which serves as a nice stop gap until the follow up to Tape Deck Heart appears.