- Gareth Crook
Joe Frank: Somewhere Out There (2018)
I’ve been trying to hunt this down for ages. Imagine my surprise at finding out it can be rented on YouTube. Joe Frank is an enigma to me, barely heard of in the UK and I’m not even sure that well known in his native America, but fans of Joe Frank are obsessive, once you listen, you’re hooked. Joe tells stories on the radio. Joe tells the best stories. The weirdest stories. The most dark captivating, sensationally amazing stories. Joe Frank is a radio GOD. He’s the sort of underground talent that inspires. That people who become much more famous sight as the reason for their being. This explains the formidable cast of talking heads in this documentary gushing about Franks work, Harry Shearer, Ira Glass. It’s insightful, but the best bits are still Joe talking, that deep, rich haunting voice accompanied with pertinent stock footage like Koyaanisqatsi, waveforms and radio dials and the drone. Oh god the drone is so cool, aural perfection. Building, pulling back, breaking into a loop and falling silent, just leaving Joe, pure Joe. Somewhere Out There tells Joe’s story of his show, his art. Late night radio. On the surface sometimes menacing, but more often soothing, a soothing tone of alienation. Although it feels thorough, it doesn’t get too deep into Joe’s personal life. It digs deep enough, but not too deep. It feels respectful, or perhaps Joe is just not that penetrable. It feels much more than a documentary too, there’s still a lot of performance and for that reason it acts as an immersive introduction to Frank’s world. As mesmerising and truly wonderful as that is. Joe himself is barely seen for the first half hour. Only in snaps of black and white photography. Mostly in dark aviators and generally looking cool as fuck. But he does talk on camera. A now older man, so unassuming considering the palpable weight of his work. Towards the end, it’s gets a bit too clean as we get to the present day. We see Joe Frank being adored, being himself, being ordinary or his version of that. It’s a little too much of a peek behind the curtain, but it doesn’t diminish the mystique to a point of ruin. I think Joe and his stories are just too powerful to fade. If you never heard or heard of Joe. Go to www.joefrank.com/listen, turn out the lights, close your eyes. Drift. Forever.