Who the hell is Frankie Flame?
It’s hard to explain, even if you are an Oi! fan. The genre of Oi! was once summarized by my departed friend, the Curator, as “the glorification of mindless violence” which is not wholly untrue. However, more accurately, Oi! is an attempt to keep punk brutally simple in it’s themes, melodies and music. As has been argued before, Oi! is like folk music, or more specifically it’s as conservative and unyielding as folk would have been if Pete Seeger had murdered Bob Dylan at Newport in 1965. Many Oi! bands (from Cocksparrer to Oxymoron and beyond) have utilized these blunt tools to rousing effect. Of course, there’s been loads of rubbish too. But then since when has the safe harbour of genre not allowed lesser bands to squeak by?
Frankie Flame's been playing in bands since the fag end of the glam era (including this band with Bowie's long-serving drummer). He's been an actor, writer, producer, session man and one of those guys who so embodies the rules he doesn't have to follow them; he's a Guy Ritchie character come to life. After all, Frankie’s a keyboard player (who often plays solo) in a genre that’s rarely had much use for anything but guitar-bass-drums n’ shoutin’. Frankie, in fact, often dredges up songs that his listeners’ grandparents may recall including; Rodgers and Hammerstein, Wynonie Harris and Chas n’ Dave. He’s kinda of a hold-out from the short-lived big tent era of Oi!, where old Rolling Stones fans (Cocksparrer), ranting poets (Gary Johnson) pop-punks (the Toy Dolls) and funny-punk bands (Splodge) could all join so-and-so’s Barmy Army.
Here’s an early eighties single of Frankie’s with his then back-up group, the Flames. The A-side is rollickin' fun and deeply British, keeping in step with what used to be called punk pathetique (a sub-genre of Oi! that revered Benny Hill as much as Sham 69). The B-side is a deadly take on Wynonie Harris’ 1952 classic, “Don’t Roll Those Bloodshot Eyes At Me.” It’s a masterfully written song (by Hank Penny), in which each verse carefully builds to the bloody conclusion. While Frankie’s may not go down as the definitive version, it’s a raw and vital one because Frankie brings the song up a generation, with some punk venom, ska beats and and one solitary, but savvy update where he exchanges the dated term "peepers" with plain old "eyes" for that devastating final verse.
MRML Readers: Now that you know who the hell Frankie Flame is leave us a comment on what you think of him.}
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