Frank Black and the Catholics “Dog in the Sand”

Today’s  Cool Album of the Day (#376 in the Series) is Frank Black and the Catholics, Dog In The Sand

Who the heck actually knows how many solo album’s Frank Black has put out by now? Jeez, probably even Frank himself has lost count! But it’s a lot. By my reckoning we’re talking, as of May 2011, 15 albums. Roughly.

He’s a prolific guy. There’s been a remarkable output over the last 18 years and what’s even more remarkable is the consistency and high standard of the material , they’ve all been pretty good albums. Which is why there’s so much debate amongst his fans about which one is actually the best. That’s a question i wouldn’t even attempt to answer, I’ll leave that to the Frank die-hards!

What i will say though, for sure, is that Dog In The Sand is an absolute cracker.

With a title like “Blast Off” you’d expect a real kick-ass rocker to open proceedings but it’s not the case, it’s actually pretty subdued a mellow number that sets things up nicely.

As is the norm for Frank’s lyrics, it’s often pretty hard to figure out just what he’s going on about but “I’ve Seen Your Picture”, sung in an Iggy Pop-esque drawl seems to be about a certain model that’s caught the man’s attention; he goes all Mick Jagger on the chorus, wonderful.

There’s nothing much on here, musically speaking, that long-term fans won’t be familiar with although this album does feature a slightly broader palette, the lovely pedal steel guitar on” Bullet” being a case in point. It’s also notable for its dusty-desert feel and being the track on the album where “outer space” (a common theme in his work) finally gets a mention!

“Robert Onion” features another staple from his book of tricks, quickly thrown out vocals on the verse followed by a high-pitched chorus, as ever, it works. Just who Mr. Onion is/was and why he needs a tribute song is, naturally, never explained!

Then there’s “Stupid Me” about (i think) a lost love, it’s a gorgeous piano-led tune and a melodic treat. It’s especially good near the end when Frank wails ‘Oh Why did i send her away….”

It’s hard to put it all into words really, how great the whole album is, and most of the fun comes from Frank’s strange and wonderful vocal mannerisms and different singing voices.

It all ends with the title track, a lovely little ballad type affair, again, not a clue as to what it’s about!

And there we have it, the 6th solo album from Frank Black (with or without his Catholics) and very possibly his best. But maybe not…..….

And just like you can’t have a Ringo Starr interview without asking him about The Beatles or an Emmylou Harris review which fails to mention Gram Parsons, there’s no way you can write anything about Frank Black’s career and not say anything about…………………Well, maybe you can !

Stephen Dalrymple, Glasgow, Scotland


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Track Listing

All tracks by Frank Black

Side One

  1. “Blast Off” – 7:13
  2. “I’ve Seen Your Picture” – 2:51
  3. “St. Francis Dam Disaster” – 5:02
  4. “Robert Onion” – 4:00
  5. “Stupid Me” – 2:31
  6. “Bullet” – 3:53

Side Two

  1. “The Swimmer” – 2:48
  2. “Hermaphroditos” – 4:12
  3. “I’ll Be Blue” – 3:34
  4. “Llano del Rio” – 4:14
  5. “If It Takes All Night” – 3:19
  6. “Dog in the Sand” – 3:48


  • Frank Black – vocals, guitar
  • Scott Boutier – drums, vocals
  • Eric Drew Feldman – keyboard, vocals
  • Rich Gilbert – guitar, pedal steel guitar, keyboards, vocals
  • David McCaffery – bass, vocals
  • Dave Phillips – guitar, pedal steel guitar, vocals
  • Joey Santiago – lead guitar
  • Moris Tepper – guitar, banjo, bihuela
  • Nick Vincent – percussion
  • Billy Bowers – recording engineer

Posted by Stephen Dalrymple
I was so much older then , i'm younger than that now.........

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