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Cult figure posthumously given the release he deserves
on 20 November 2003
The last word from a truly tragic artist, 'Blues Run the Game' is the definitive collection, comprising Frank's sole album and all the available demos from the 1970's and 1990's, along with numerous 'lost' recordings of civil war songs and originals, which have surfaced seemingly from thin air. Chilling, stark, passionate and beautifully intense, this is as authentic as it gets. Another reviewer used the term "integrity" to describe Frank; I can't think of a better one.
You couldn't make it up. Badly injured in a fire as a child, Jackson C. Frank received a sizeable insurance payment and came to England to buy a Jaguar, subsequently making a big impression on the London folk scene way before Dylan. His debut album sold well in the UK but subsequent attempts at a follow up failed, and Frank lost touch with his contemporaries. Fate then ran him up a thoroughly depressing tally of bad fortune, including but not limited to the loss of a son to Cystic Fibrosis, bouts of clinical depression, parathyroid malfunction, misdiagnosis for paranoid schizophrenia and subsequent institutionalisation, chronic poverty and, after his luck looked like it was finally coming round, being shot in the face by a stranger leaving him blind in one eye. This last disaster came after his 'rediscovery' in the early '90's by a fan called Jim Abbott who helped him recover lost royalties and record some new material, resulting in an upsurge in interest in his work. His debut album was re-issued once again, to an appreciative audience, but Frank died in 1999, aged 55. When he wrote 'Blues Run the Game' on a boat to England as a young man it was as though he somehow already knew what was coming.
Frank's work is better known through its coverage by other artists, including Bert Jansch, Nick Drake and Sandy Denny. Perhaps this release will finally redress the balance. A remarkable songwriter, a startling lyricist, and in short, a great guitarist, Frank's work sorely needs to be rescued from doomed folk obscurity.