Jackson C. Frank

Jackson C. Frank

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Jackson C. Frank's original 1965 album is a lost classic, daringly complex and honest, filled with virtuoso playing that is all the more impressive for the offhanded way that Frank makes it look so easy. There is a convergence of elements here that may confuse the uninitiated, because of their seeming contradictions -- a flashiness and assertiveness on the acoustic guitars and the approach to singing on numbers like "Don't Look Back" and "Yellow Walls" that are byproducts of Frank's early history as a rock & roller, a depth and complexity of blues playing that derives from life as much as from talent and dexterity; and the meld of American and English folk sounds is like nothing that any listener has heard from either side of the Atlantic anywhere else. Derived from a song bag that included "Blues Run the Game," "Yellow Walls," "My Name Is Carnival," and "You Never Wanted Me," the album is kind of overpowering -- rather ironically, it's the downbeat nature of those same songs that likely would have prevented Jackson C. Frank from being anything much more than a major cult favorite; even "Blues Run the Game," for all of its beauty, has an underlying sadness that makes it difficult to hear, at least in its album version. [The 2002 reissue by Castle Records has five bonus tracks from an attempted 1975 comeback by Frank, which are still extremely impressive and perhaps even more attractive in their lyrical and musical complexity. This expanded album was later folded into the Frank double-CD anthology titled Blues Run the Game, from Sanctuary Records.]

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