Sunday, 15 November 2015

Album Review: Song for Josh (7" vinyl release) by Frank Turner (by Emma Prew)

Song for Josh is the closing song on Frank Turner’s recent (excellent) sixth album, Positive Songs for Negative People. The song is a beautiful, heart-felt tribute to the late Josh Burdette who was the long-time manager and security guy at Washington’s famous 9:30 Club. For whatever reasons, Josh tragically took his own life in 2013, leaving a hole in the North American punk rock world and lot of very sad music fans. Frank Turner was one of those music fans, but not only that he was a friend to Josh too.

On the 4th of June 2014, on stage at the 9:30 Club, Frank Turner performed his song in tribute to Josh. It was new and at the time untitled, but despite this the song was recorded there and then to be included on his forthcoming album. You can see video footage of the song here with a bit more of an introduction than the record version. It really shows just how much Josh meant to everyone, not just Frank.

Xtra Mile Recordings have just released a limited number of Song for Josh 7” vinyl records, previously only available on the US tour but now available to buy online. You can pay whatever you like for the record (starting at £5/$6) and all the proceeds go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention charity (AFSP). I got my copy a few days before its official release, 9th November, and tearfully gave it a couple of spins immediately. There’s something about hearing a song on vinyl that makes it have even more of an impact on the listener.

The B-side to Song for Josh is a more upbeat song featuring label mate Billy The Kid, called Old Flames. I love Billy so it’s great to hear her and Frank perform another song together. If you didn’t know, Frank produced her 2014 album, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, as well as duetting on the song This Sure As Hell Ain’t My Life. Old Flames had previously only been available with the iTunes pre-order of PSFNP but if you didn’t get that, and you don’t have a record player for this 7”, there is a video of the song online.

‘It was so hard to make sense of the news – then and now. Josh Burdette was a rock of a man, both physically and personally. … Everyone on the North American punk rock touring circuit knew him; he was both an imposing physical presence – massive, tattooed and pierced – and a generous, kind soul, a man who'd help out the visiting itinerants in his town with whatever they needed. I first met him at a radio session in DC the morning before a show. He walked into the studio, towering over me, and simply informed me that he was my guy in town.’ – taken from Frank’s piece for The Big Issue and re-posted on AFSP, you can read the full article here (and I highly recommend that you do).

Song for Josh is a beautiful tribute to a man who I can only imagine was as awesome as this song and other people’s stories make out. Suicide is one of the most horrible things in the world and it, cliché as it sounds, breaks my heart to think that anyone would find things so bad that they want to end their life. No one should feel like that. No one.

If you don’t have a record player or you happen to miss out on buying this 7”, you can still donate to AFSP regardless.