This album was a genuine surprise to me when I first heard it, a wonderful surprise. You see, I was well aware of the quality of Frank’s musicianship as I’d had the pleasure of hearing him play numerous times over the years and anyone who has seen him work will understand just what a talented player he is. He’s had a long career in music starting in the early Eighties with bands like Mad Gorilla, The Beatnix, The Generation, Le Club Nerd and was the musical director for ABC’s Play School for many years. He is just as active today as a solo artist which is a rare feat these days. The surprise I had with this album was that I was completely unaware of his songwriting and arranging abilities, which are huge. This is a beautifully written, arranged and played album. There is no other way to describe it.
It’s easy to hear Frank’s influences at play on this album. As he says on his website: “A self-taught musician with no theory knowledge or ability to read music due to his dyslexia, Franky became heavily influenced by the music performed by Rick Wakeman, Kate Bush, The Beatles, ELO, Queen and ABBA (yes, ABBA)”
He has been able to pay tribute to those influences in some quite subtle ways. Sometimes it’s just a particular style of sound like the very Wakeman-esque “Gothic Horror”, through to “Paul Isn’t Dead” which has a wonderful Beatles feel.
There is something quite old-fashioned about hearing an album full of songs that actually belong together on one album. There are no “fillers” here at all. Every song deserves its’ place. In the same vein, the arrangements are quite sparing too. Modern technology makes it possible these days to include literally hundreds of tracks in the recording process and unfortunately this gets abused regularly. Not so here. There is not a single sound that doesn’t belong. This means each arrangement has a “space” for each part and, despite there being a lot going on, nothing feels crowded or cluttered. It’s a lesson many modern musicians and producers could learn.
One of the annoying things about being a live sound engineer for over 30 years is that I quite often listen to music with far too much of a critical ear. I tend to focus on the “parts” sometimes instead of just listening to the songs. This is not a problem I had with “All In A Dream”. It had me hooked from the opening of “Gothic Horror” right through to the epic closing of the “Jovian Moon Suite”. It took me 2 or 3 listens before I started to pick it to pieces and when I did I appreciated it even more. As I said earlier, this is a beautifully written, arranged and played album that I have enjoyed on each subsequent listen.
This album took a long time to come to life and it was truly worth the wait. This is a labour of love from an incredibly gifted musician. Buy a copy today, you will not be disappointed.