File it in the "Regret They Didn't Follow It Up Pile": In 1994, Mr. Frank Black was in England, and was offered a Peel Session. He didn't have a band, so he called up the excellent Scottish power-poppers Teenage Fanclub and asked them to accompany him. They agreed, and four wonderful songs were recorded: Black's then-newly written "The Man Who Was Too Loud" and "The Jacques Tati." Also included were two covers: Del Shannon's "Sister Isabel," and Otis Blackwell's "Handyman." As befits the thrown-together arrangements for the session, the four songs sounded rough and raw, and the Fannies were in fine form. The two originals are a bit shaky, but they have a definite charm; "Sister Isabel" is creepy and weird, but it's not all Frank Black weirdness; Del Shannon's lyrics often possessed a creepy and weird tone. "Handyman" is the hands-down best song of the set, and, honestly, I think it's one of my favorite Frank Black solo recordings. It could pass as an Elvis Costello & The Attractions outtake; Frank is simply insane in his singing, and Norman Blake's motley crew do a damn good job of pounding the melody out. It's an amazing piece of music, my friends. When this limited-edition EP for this session was released, I spent a little too much money for it--but "Handyman" has reaped dividends, even if I did not keep up with Black's solo career. I do wish they had followed up this session with an EP or an album, because these songs certainly indicate that these two artistic bodies fit well together.
Listen To: "Handyman"
Labels: Frank Black, Teenage Fanclub