|Personnel: Bob Frank (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Eric Lewis (vocals, guitar, pedal steel guitar, dobro, mandolin, fiddle); Jim Monahan (vocals, guitar, dobro, mandolin); Sam Shoup (vocals, piano, bass instrument, Jew's harp); Jill Miles (vocals); Luther Dickinson (guitar); John Whitemore (pedal steel guitar); Gabe Witcher, Tommy Burroughs (fiddle); Mike Dunbar (bass instrument); Cody Dickinson (drums).
|Veteran singer/songwriter Bob Frank began to record prolifically in the early years of the 21st century, perhaps in part to make up for his having dropped out of the music business for nearly three decades after his self-titled debut album in 1972. Between 2001 and 2006, he put out five CDs on his own Bowstring Records label, including three solo albums of original songs, the folk-rock collection Keep on Burning (2002); the voice-and-guitar disc Pledge of Allegiance (2004), containing several topical songs; and 2005's Ride the Restless Wind, featuring country music. Memphis International Records has signed Frank up and put out Red Neck, Blue Collar, which is a compilation drawn from those three albums with some of the tracks (particularly ones from the spare Pledge of Allegiance) boasting new overdubs to make the overall sound more consistent. So, for example, there is now a Jew's harp twanging away on the hilarious Biblical rewrite "Judas Iscariot" from Keep on Burning and a steel guitar on the trucker song "Coming into Glen Rock." As a result, Frank sounds more like a country artist, even if his perspective lacks most of the right-wing politics typical of country music, notably on the title song and especially "One Big Family," which is an attack on the rich-poor divide in America. Politics is only one element of Frank's concerns, however. He is perfectly capable of writing touching and funny story-songs, cowboy songs, and traditional country songs, all in a way that makes them sound like standards. Frank started his musical career as a Nashville songwriter, if a highly individual and idiosyncratic one, and he still puts the song first. This album contains some of his best. ~ William Ruhlmann