Ride the Restless Wind
'He's a masterful songwriter and very striking vocalist whose songs have been recorded by numerous vocalists and groups, yet Bob Frank is another of those names well respected among musicians and generally unknown to the broader audience. Some of that may be due to a limited catalog, something that makes any of his releases a newsworthy event. His newest is Ride The Restless Wind (Bowstring), and it has 12 songs that range from great story tunes like 'Monroe, Louisiana, Pipeliners' Brawl' to 'Luther Brown' and 'Painted Arrow.' There are also numbers with equal parts humor and irony such as 'Within A Few Degrees' and the tune 'Buckskin Lady' that's been covered by among others Chris Ledoux and the Starlite Ramblers. Frank's pieces are always highly literate, superbly crafted and frequently provocative. They're far too witty and original to get much radio airplay, but they shouldn't be missed by anyone seeking smart, well performed and entertaining music that's neither dry nor predictable.' - Ron Wynn, Nashville City Paper, June 24, 2005. The Return of a Legend In the last forty years there have been countless 'new' Dylans - only two individuals came close to rising to that mantle: Bruce Springsteen and Bob Frank. Unlike the majority of celebrated singer-songwriters, both of these men's roots were true blue collar - and both debut albums lived up to the hype. Like the hero in the motion picture, Eddie and the Cruisers, something mysterious happened to Frank almost as soon as his album was released. He disappeared. The album Bob Frank, released on Vanguard Records in 1972, was universally hailed by critics, but there was no Frank to interview or perform the songs. The album became one of the most sought after collector's items in music history, averaging $100 a copy, but for more than thirty years Bob Frank disappeared as completely as D.B. Cooper. If you were lucky enough to have heard the songs on Frank's album, you might even think these two guys were one and the same. Over the years a cult following has developed all over the world for the Bob Frank album. Poorly recorded bootlegs of the album and a few concert tapes were circulated from Australia to Norway. The recurring question was always, 'What happened to Bob Frank?' - with most thinking he, like John Kennedy Toole of 'Confederacy of Dunces' fame, had probably exited the world before his genius was recognized. Well, the mystery has been solved, and here is the story: In the late sixties, Bob Frank wrote for Tree Publishing Company in Nashville. When John Hiatt came to Nashville, the first night he was there, he slept on the floor of Bob's apartment. In 1971, Gary Walker and Cletus Haegert got Bob a deal with Vanguard to make an album. Personal demons and a refusal to promote his album caused Bob to leave the music business. He wound up living in California, installing and maintaining irrigation systems in the ball fields and parks. He and his wife raised four kids and now he has two grandchildren. And all that time, he never quit writing songs. And now he's back, finally willing to showcase his talent in the commercial world. Beginning in 2001, in quick succession, he has released three albums which have garnered more rave reviews from major music periodicals, such as Billboard, No Depression, Goldmine, Big O, Sing Out, Dirty Linen, and numerous other publications. His new songs are also garnering airplay on Americana and roots/alternative radio stations. Check out his new album, Ride the Restless Wind, and see for yourself what all the fuss is about. It just might be the best one yet. Better yet, book him in your place and see him live. Old fans of his will come from miles around just to have him autograph their original copies of that old Vanguard album. MORE REVIEWS: 'Bob Frank has followed an unconventional path as a musician. After releasing his self-titled debut album in 1972, he grew disillusioned with the music business and waited three decades before issuing Keep on Burning, a follow-up album, in 2002. Frank now works at a quicker pace, and Ride the Restless Wind showcases his ability as a songwriter with an eye for detail on this 12-song collection that emphasizes his folk/country roots. 'Little Ol' Cabin Home' details a search for a pastoral paradise that recalls Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline album. 'Monroe, Louisiana, Pipeliners' Brawl' is a slice-of-life look at the working class that's enlivened by Frank's humorous touch. Frank delivers his songs in a folksy, easygoing manner that captures a listener's attention. 'Love Pours In' is a song that builds from the personal to the universal when he observes... 'Love pours in when love flows out/ Everybody's kin on a different route.' On his Web site, Frank bills himself as 'one of the most obscure songwriters on the planet.' With the quality of songs on his new CD, he may have to rewrite that description.' -- Tom Wilk, Prime Time, September, 2005.