Review by filmmaker Blimp Chopsocky
This album is a comedic masterpiece of storytelling, bitter disagreements, mixed with incredible pop songs and inevitably it's been compared to The Beatles 'White Album'. Opening up with The Robins Aren’t Bobbins, a tribute to Frank’s favourite football team, Altrincham FC, it's an anthemic heart-tugging anthem that rivals The Lightning Seeds '3 Lions'. Frank's debut LP features remarkably funny aggressive arguments between Frank & Little Frank interspersed with the songs. Musically, the sound has developed from the basic weirdness of the earlier recordings to feature a band playing oddball-drum and distorted guitars, and conceptually the story is a lot more casual, with Frank and Little Frank searching through tapes to put on the album, finding songs and sketches from his Radio Timperley and Frank’s World shows.
There’s a cover of Abba’s SOS by Little Frank and the Demon Axx Warriors from Oblivion, the glam rock stomp of Timperley Travelogue and the epic album closer Electricity, which actually reveals a genuine pop songwriting talent beneath all the strangeness.
There's also interviews with Patrick Moore, Nicholas Parsons and Ian McCaskill. There’s a multi-track distraction that sees Frank and Little Frank heading into space before heading back down to Earth to deal with money debts, visits from Mr Emerson Lake, disastrous babysitting for Mrs Merton and visits to football matches (cue 6 All Time Great Footballing Chants). There are also also surreal sketches like The Squid is Correct, Pirates, First Puppet on the Moon which reveals the complicated relationship of Little Frank & Little Buzz Aldrin about colonising the moon for Timperley, which eventually drives Frank to violence in the studio shed.
The songs include Mr Custard You’re a Fool (a lyrical masterpiece!), Airplay, Paul McCartney tribute It Was Nearly 20 Years Ago Today, rap song I Said ‘Hey You Street Artist’ (plus variant version I Said ‘Hey You, Riot Policeman’) and weird heavy space rock number Ultimatum to Return. Anyway here's the whole album's story:
Frank welcomes the listeners to the album, then Little Frank knocks on the door, he asks Frank if he can be on the album but Frank sternly says ''NO you cant be on my show-biz album!!''. They then start to sort through Frank's box of cassette tapes of radio episodes. Frank tells Little Frank that ''he makes him sick!'' as they sort through 'Radio Timperley', 'Franks World'. 'Star Interviews', & 'Potato Time' episodes.
Zoo Scrapbook is a perfect children's song with distorted guitars and a sing-along nursery rhyme chorus. Frank listens to some Answering Machine Messages where a friend tells him about a band called ''the chip muffin minstrels''and invites him to a gig, but Little Frank warns him about going behind his managers back, but Frank doesnt care cose ''he can manage himself''.
They find a Radio Timperley tape about The Tomb of Maurice Karman talking about Egyptian tombs and an ancient curse. Frank finds 6 pairs of underpants and reads the chilly curse he sees on the tombs wall. Frank then tells Little Frank to fetch his puppet pal's so they can record some new songs, Little Franks girlfriend Denise has lost her head so she cant sing. Frank then explains how he wrote Mr Custard after watching a movies about General Custer fighting the Indian's. On the song he calls Mr Custard, Red Indians & Mike Tyson ''fools'', but at least Tyson ''is a millionaire''.
They carry on listening to 'Franks World' tapes which leads into The Squid Is Correct, where contestants have to guess song titles, and Little Frank win's the grand prize of going to Hollywood to direct an episode of the Beverly Hillbillies. After that Little Frank leaves to pick up his puppet pals after Frank calls his fans ''fickle'' and ''the past is the past, you have to look at the future''.
It Was Nearly 20 Years Ago Today is a song about Paul McCartney writing songs in Scotland inspired by Linda, whom he taught how to play the synthesizer for Wings. Side B starts with a Brooklyn inspired rap about graffiti Street Artist. Little Frank then turns up without his puppet pal's because Mrs Merton has asked Little Frank to look after her baby Reginald for 50 pence. They read up on how to look after babies, but Frank slaps the baby because he is too quiet, but then wont stop crying. Frank teaches the baby how to crawl but baby Reginald falls through a hole in the shed.
Pirates is the next Radio Timperley story about them drinking run on a ship at sea as Little Frank fetches the dangerous prisoner ZZ Top Beard. They then land on an island wanting some 'nosh' but the fish fingers have fallen in the sea. They meet a Zulu warrior king and ask to trade some bananas for a tape machine. A Fantastic Sea Shanty erupts about a salty sea dog. Then the next Star Interview starts with astronomer Patrick Moore about black holes and infinite space. Then a sudden flashback starts about the First Puppet On The Moon, while Ultimatum To Return is an incredibly deep trippy Pink Floyd track with an intergalactic feel.
Airplay is one of the hookyest, sunniest tracks on the album and should have been a 1# Hit single, it's about Frank turning on the radio and hearing one of his songs on. It's pure morning pop genius. Little Frank then lies to his girlfriend that he's the boss and Frank is his sidekick, and that he actually wrote Abbas SOS, which is a great unique interpretation of the song. Big Frank Blasts Off and then returns concluding the flashback, but he is now furious to find out that Little Frank has been saying he's his sidekick. Frank then punches Buzz Aldrin in the face several times in the shed after having permission from NASA to punch him.
Frank & Little Frank decide to play Monopoly which reveals Frank as a power crazed puppeteer. Frank's manager then pop's in to visits them and tells Frank off for not finishing the album because they are on a deadline, Frank then goes on to improvise the Monopoly Song which his manager enjoys. Money Problems is about how his manager makes Frank's career decisions by tossing a 1966 coin, which Frank is impressed by and his manager leaves.
At this point Frank cant find his money to go to the cinema so he decides to swindle Little Frank by playing a rigged game of Roulette, they play the game and Little Frank gets 3 Lucky number 7's in a row, winning lots of money, plus Frank finds out Little Frank now has a record deal. On Football & Weather they argue about whether or not to go and watch the football because it's raining. An interview with weather-man Ian McCaskill pops up. On Mr E Lake his friend Emmo visits Frank and tells him that he cant go to the match because he has to stock-take lard, and gives them his VIP tickets to the match.
Timperley Travelogue is one of the best songs on the album, a proper glam stomper about visiting Timperley ''all the time''. Anyway off they walk to the football match, and you can hear the fans singing Franks bobbins song, Frank tells Little Frank not to cause any violence at the football match. Hey Riot Policeman is about asking a policeman if he's got the time, because he has to catch a bus to the hospital because he's been hit on the head and is bleeding. The boys are now in the football grounds and 6 All Time Great Footballing Chants is about just that, getting the fans to chant ''nil, nil' and ''you're going home in an organized football coach!'', ''there's only one Little Frank'' and the fans start asking little Frank for autographs. Sue Of The Sioux is a tribal post-punk goth song with shades of stadium era Simple Minds harmonies.
Leaving the football stadium they run into Roger & Sarah who tell's Frank that he's in trouble because he's forgotten to return Mrs Merton's baby. Sarah suggests that they use one of her dolls, but Frank's got better ideas. I've Got Something To Shout About is a quick cosy sentimental song. They go to Mrs Meron's door with a cardboard ''trendy baby'' disguised as Reginald. Mrs Merton reveals that baby Reginald has come home by himself drunk on Shandy, she offers to forgive Frank if he plays her his interview with TV presenter Nicholas Parsons, who tells Frank he talks too fast. The Puppets Arrive for a singalong about a 'fantastic barber shop' where they do Paul McCartney haircuts and can cut off your ears.
At this point the puppets tell Frank his showbiz-album is bobbins because there's no 40 piece orchestra, but Frank reveals that in fact they are in the kitchen getting ready for the big finale. Electricity is a huge anthemic send off to the album about Frank not having paid his mom's electric bill, so he tries to fix the problem by going to the Norweb store but they are closed. His mum send him up to his room without any supper or cereal & Frank misses his favourite TV Shows such as Neighbours (with Kyle Minogue) Star Trek, Top Of The Pop's and Tomorrows World. Frank dreams of throwing himself out his bedroom window, but instead he sneaks down the drain pipe and goes around the corner to his friend Emmo's house to watch the TV programs there.
As the long finale continues Frank complains to Little Frank that nothing works without electricity, ultimately he pulls the plug on his own recording. But the albums last wise words go to Little Frank ''electric bills sort themselves out, but old bills never die''.
Recorded in my shed and kitchenHello fantastic fans.....on this double length tape are over 101 minutes of ace show biz things like...them fabulous songs, a brilliant flashback to my puppet moonshot, some classic radio broadcasts, a top interview or two, and a few changes and mixes which you won't find on the disc version of this double LP! Well...I don't think there's any more to mention...so from me THANK YOU for buying this tape.