World Without End” is a collection of ten murder ballads co-written by Bob Frank and John Murry that was produced by Tim Mooney of American Music Club (who drums on the album) and mastered by Matt Pence of Centromatic/South San Gabriel. It contains the contributions of an enormous group of musicians on a multitude of instruments. The songs are based on true-but-forgotten tales of murder, death, and suicide. Producer Jim Dickinson calls Bob Frank “the greatest songwriter you never heard”. Some might call it Gothic country. Think GUN CLUB getting in a drinking contest with Tom Waits.
On the band:
You ask, who the hell is this 62 (now 67) year old Bob Frank? Well there is a great story behind this man; he is a well kept secret and a legend of sorts. Bob had initially lived in Nashville with a young John Hiatt in the sixties where they were both writing for Tree Music for $25 a week. His self titled debut album was released in 1972 on the legendary folk label Vanguard which now fetches up to $100. He toured in ‘71/72 with Tim Buckley, Townes Van Zandt and Lightnin Hopkins,. He was soon kicked off Vanguard after publicly venting his anger with label boss Seymour Solomon on his New York Press show (now there’s a way to win over friends!) Bob then went back to song writing for the likes of John Renbourne and eventually quit recording music in the mid 70s. Bob’s second album came out thirty years later and was produced by none other than Jim Dickinson producer of the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Big Star and the Replacements. Jim knew Bob from his days as a Memphis session hand where Bob, a native of Memphis was treading the same boards. Like Vashti Bunyan did a few years back, Bob Frank is set to make a major comeback in 2007/2008.
Bob’s partner in crime is John Murry, a youngun at 27 (now 32), who’s great grandfather is none other than William Faulkner and a Tupelo giant half Bob’s age. John has been a member of the Dillingers and Lucero and recorded an Waylon Jennings album with Chuck Prophet. Bob and John met up in 2005 and formed their plan for new Murder Ballads from their new home in San Francisco.
On the album:
“The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.” –William Faulkner. World Without End is a séance. With each song a ghost rises up. Some speak of misdeeds. Some speak of misdeeds endured. The songs drip with blood, but it’s not the corn syrup and food dye of Hollywood. No, there’s no exaggeration. The ghosts dispense their tales of woe with an almost objective eye to factual detail. They are merely distilling the crimes, sometimes with regret, sometimes with bravado. Stories of death, dying, and almost always revenge. The bitter agony of injustice. The profound agony of justice. World without End is a history lesson of violent America.
These ghosts tell their deadmen’s tales. And ghost stories always have a moral. On the ten song record, some are easier to spot than others. American lore idolizes criminals and vigilantes, and World Without End is filled with anti-hero anthems. We cheer for the unrepentant outlaw who kills himself so the sheriff can’t brag that he killed him. We admire the heinous criminal who says, “Drop the trap door I got nothing to say”. In the lightest song, Bubba Rose, a dock worker, wakes up one morning and goes to work and shoots his boss. The chorus professes “nobody knows why Bubba Rose shot his boss,” but we all know why Bubba shot his boss–we all want to shoot our bosses. Each song reminds us we could kill for love or malice or for some perceived slight given half the chance.
The settings of some of the songs are more than a hundred and fifty years old, but there’s immediacy in them. Without shame, World without End looks unflinchingly into the history of racism. Without moralizing, two of these songs look right into the past and own up to it. One song lets a Klansman speak about lynching. Another song lets the man who was lynched speak. The lesson of each ghost is that this could happen to you. The moral is that there’s murder, justified or unjustified, in each of us given the right circumstances. America will always be a violent nation. There’s guns in all our trunks. But if you listen to World without End, you might rethink going on that rampage.
–Dustin Wells, San Francisco, California, 9-28-06
World Without End – CD album 2007 decoor
The Gun Play Ep 2008 Evangeline Records (decor for 2008-2009)