You can’t pigeonhole Frank Lee Sprague unless it’s to say that his music is always pure and always passionate. He is a master of many styles and many genres. Those familiar with his rock ‘n’ roll recordings know that he mixes rockabilly and surf and British Invasion-style music into a unique West-Texan stew. And yet he moves so fast you can’t pin him down. Now, after two powerful, highly acclaimed Merseybeat themed albums, Frank explores another side of his talent on the superb, Fulton Avenue.
Although Fulton Avenue is acoustic-based, it is remarkably rich in song structure, with nuanced themes both musically and lyrically. Each song claims its own mood and yet fits together seamlessly.
“Another World” leads off the album. It’s a soft, sweet, sigh of a song with a delicate acoustic lead break and a warm melody that will make you close your eyes and hum along.
“Anaheim Girls” takes a nostalgic look back to the year 1971 and yet its lyrics paint a glimpse of innocent youth in a way we all relate to.
Known for his exquisite ballads, Frank includes several absolute beauties on Fulton Avenue. “All Too Well,” with its yearning melody, massed chorus and subtle percussion is a classic, the kind of song Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson once wrote and we seldom hear today.
“So Long Ago” features one of the album’s best and most unusual arrangements. The song begins with spare acoustic guitar and a stark, pain-filled vocal and then builds with a vibrant cello backing and an accordion functioning as an organ.
A nifty and extremely catchy instrumental, “The Devil’s Joke,” begs to serve as a movie theme. Listen up, Hollywood!
Every Frank Lee Sprague album includes songs that sound like automatic top-ten smashes. On Fulton Avenue, first choice would have to be “Mixed Up,” a mesmerizing sitar-laced psychedelic production, featuring a hypnotic melody that will have you returning to the song over and over again.
The album proper ends with “Turning My Back on You,” an impossibly catchy Beatles-flavored purely acoustic number. You’ll swear Paul and George sing backup.
As with any Frank Lee Sprague album, the show isn’t over yet! First we’re treated to Frank’s lovely rendition of Art Garfunkel’s, “Second Avenue”, here transformed to “Fulton Avenue,” where Frank lived for many years.
As an extra gift, Frank includes two further bonus tracks. No toss-offs, they are spectacular in their own right. “If Mary,” has a glorious mid-sixties Beach Boys feel, while “It Won’t Help” reinvents George Harrison’s slide guitar circa 1970 and has all the earmarks of a power pop classic. Don’t forget to stick around for a sneak peak at the prolific Frank Lee Sprague’s next album!
Fulton Avenue is wondrous, deeply felt art. With impressive singing, skilled musicianship and expert songwriting, Frank Lee Sprague has crafted a work for the ages.
Known for his remarkable ability to synthesize authentic rock ‘n’ roll styles into his own West Texas imprint, Frank Lee Sprague’s work has wowed reviewers in Rolling Stone, Playboy, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and many other magazines and newspapers. He has appeared on CBS nationwide television and National Public Radio, and has performed live around the world, including several successful tours of Japan. With two Merseybeat-style albums under his belt, he will perform live at the Cavern Club in Liverpool in spring 2006.