Dick’s Picks: Going back to where it all began with Frank Turner’s debut EP, Campfire Punkrock

Frank Turner is currently one of the biggest, most respected singer songwriters in the UK. The folk punk troubadour has garnered a huge following both here and across the Atlantic, with each album expanding his reach. However, lets not forget where it all began back in 2005 with his debut EP, Campfire Punkrock.

In the early 2000’s, Turner was known as the vocalist of post-hardcore stalwarts, Million Dead. While they never reached the same heights as some of their peers – but more so than Turner’s previous band, the excellent Kneejerk – they remain a very influential band in underground British music circles. When Million Dead called it a day in 2005, Turner did what so many front men do once their bands demise, and picked up an acoustic guitar and go into business for himself.

With a little help from Xtra Mile Records, with whom Million Dead had released music, Turner was able to release his debut EP. It was five tracks of homegrown, grass roots folk music, but with the DIY feel of a punk record. Even the title itself suggested images of punk kids sitting around sharing coming of age stories about growing up; Turner was one of those kids.

Where so many British musicians are quick to take influence from our transatlantic cousins, Turner was from England and wasn’t ashamed to have that come through in his music. He makes the perfectly clear with the defiant opening lines of Nashville, Tennessee, as he sings “From the heart of the Southern Downs, to the North-East London reservoirs / From the start, the land shaped my sound, before I’d ever been to America.” It is a theme that continues through the EP, as he touches on everything from politics (Thatcher Fucked The Kids), frustration and isolation (This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The One of Me) and heartbreak (Casanova Lament).

The initial run was a limited CD pressing in the UK, before eventually being released on limited 10″ coloured vinyl Stateside by Good Friend Records. This included a live version of the beloved track, The Ballad of Me and My Friends. It has since been given a tenth anniversary issue since, and is regarded as a classic release in British underground music. Of course, this is perfect for those who love to hate on successful artists and utter the immortal phrase, “I only like the first release.” Love Frank Turner or hate him, his impact is undeniable, and he continues to be the torch bearer for those who dare to dream and have the guts to try and achieve it.

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