I almost didn’t finish this review because along the way I discovered a weird anomaly and then found out that the album is in fact out of print.
So I decided to finish my review-of-sorts for you, Dear Readers, especially those of you who are fans of the fine Irish band called The Frames and collecting rare records….
What we’re talking about here in this review is The Frames’ second album called Fitzcarraldo.
Now, I know that The Frames are not a household name for most of you as far as rock bands go. But for some of us in the know, they are too powerful an entity to ignore. More of you may be familiar with bits of their music which was brilliantly incorporated into the film Once, winners of the 2006 Academy Award for Best Song (“Falling Slowly”) ; the film was later adapted to eventually become a Tony Award winning musical on Broadway in New York City.
The movie version starred The Frames main songwriter and founder Glen Hansard as a hapless street musician who has lost the one thing he had going for him in life (his girlfriend). Once is a story about two people who connect and (in short) give each other the courage to resume the pursuit of their very separate dreams. An almost love story of sorts, along the way they form a band (which includes members of The Frames, of course) to record a life changing demo tape. Its all very romantic and fantasy like, much of it filmed rough ‘n tumble without permits on the streets of Dublin. But ultimately all that Partridge Family-like lets-make-a-record-guys magic comes off somehow utterly charming and the film pulls you in the best possible way.
Suspension of disbelief of the highest order.
And I love it…
Once was my favorite film that year and remains a magical movie I can enjoy over and over again. The opening scene from Once features Hansard performing a spectacular solo street busking version of “Say It To Me Now” which remains one of my favorites of his many mini epics.
Like many of the songs on Once, “Say It To Me Now” appeared on an earlier Frames album in a full band incarnation. In fact, that album it appeared on was Fitzcarraldo!
(See how I came full circle folks?)
So yes, Fitzcarraldo had been issued for the first time (as far as I know) on LP courtesy of the folks at Music On Vinyl. Now, its important at this point to take note that I wrote that it “had” been issued by the folks at Music On Vinyl.
Apparently it has gone out of print already. More on that in a bit…
Listening to this reissue / first issue, the results compared to the CD are quite wonderful.The LP sounds entirely more full bodied than the CD. The bass lines have a nice midrange sensibility as well as low end. “Say It To Me Now” on the CD sounds edgy on the high end, with its hip hop flavored drums mostly coming through as sub sonic throb. On the LP, now you can hear more of the actual bass signatures. On the CD, the guitars are kind of squashed, losing their sense of amplifier tone that comes across more clearly on the LP. And so it goes on that way around the whole album…
Well at least most of it that I was able to compare / contrast.
This is the part where I get to a discussion about the aforementioned anomaly…
You see Dear Readers, along the way in preparing this review I noticed something curious: the song line up on this LP is different than on the CD version I have. A quick visit to the Wiki indicates that the album initially came out in 1995 but then was reissued in 1996 by ZTT Records with different cover art and slightly different track listing and running order. “Evergreen” replaced the song called “Roger.” Hidden track “Your Face” was unhidden. Similar but distinctively different (and perhaps better) artwork was created for the reissue.
Well, the surprise is that this new vinyl version of the album features the original 1995 track listing. Yet, it uses the revised artwork from the 1996 reissue. As I don’t have the 1995 release, I don’t know for sure if these are the earlier mixes or simply the 1996 songs in different order plus that one song that was later cut, reinserted.
Whatever it is, we seem to have some sort of mix up present.
Fortunately, its out of print now and I have no doubts that it will eventually be corrected.
But for now, we record collectors who love these sorts of odd mistake pressings can rejoice in owning something of rarity which may rise in value someday. I say “something of a collectors item” because that, Dear Readers, is purely a matter of supply and demand. If not that many people ultimately care about this sort of mix up from a band called The Frames, well then its just a really cool thing to have if you are into the band. I have many anomaly pressings by other artists which are not really super valuable. But they are cool to have as I am into those artists.
Regardless, no matter which way you look at it, the music on Fitzcarraldo is great, so you can’t really lose by picking this up if you come across it.
And, who knows? Someday you may be able to retire on that investment.