- 10 Jul 15
Collection of highlights from The Frames vaults.
When Glen Hansard first picked up a guitar in anger, Packie Bonner was diving across the hallowed turf of Geona, MC Hammer was determinedly not touching this, Macauley Culkin was left home alone and Liverpool won their 18th championship. The intervening two and a half decades have seen some of their venerable crew fall from grace (we're still holding out hope for the Reds), but The Frames are still fighting the good fight.
It hasn't always been an easy road. There was a time when it seemed that no matter how good their album releases were (Fitzcarraldo and Dance The Devil, I'm looking at you) and how raucously awesome they became as a live force, the rest of the world refused to take notice. For years, it looked like their leader would be more famous as Outspan Foster than in his own right, following Alan Parker's superb film of Roddy Doyle's The Commitments. Ironically, it took another film for the world to wake up to Hansard's primary talent, as one of the finest songwriters and performers this island has ever produced.
During the lean years, those of us who had taken this ragged band of brothers to our hearts wore it like a badge of honour: the more others ignored them, the more we hailed their greatness. Listening to Longitude, it's immediately clear that we were right: there is greatness here. It's there in Colm Mac Con Iomaire's yearning fiddle solo on the monumental 'Fitzcarraldo', re-recorded for this collection, along with 'Revelate', still yearning after all these years.
It's evident in the roll and pitch of 'Lay Me Down', the life-affirming "We have all the love in the world" coda to 'People Get Ready', the break-out drum solo on 'Ship Caught In The Bay', the tautness and tension of 'Seven Day Mile' and the luscious lullaby of 'Star Star'. It's present on loads of the songs that aren't included here, but as the band themselves point out, these 12 tracks aren't a 'best of' but a collection of songs they would "be happy to put on a mix-tape for a friend,"
Lone new song, 'None But I' holds its own against the old hands, building from a slow start into a bona fide anthem, where a screaming Hansard implores us to "Always remember your song...Always remember where you're from".
The first time your humble scribe saw The Frames was March 1991, when they supported The Stunning in the National Concert Hall. It wasn't until five years later that I saw them again, tearing up the stage on the Heineken Rollercoaster Tour in Maynooth. It seemed that the more time they spent together, the better The Frames became as musicians, songwriters and as a tight-knit gang, frequently blowing the roof off Vicar St., lighting up Marlay Park and organically building a following right across the world. They remain a beacon of how sticking to your guns and refusing to compromise your art can be worth all the hardship in the end.
Longitude is out now.