The Third Three Years is Turner’s third compilation of rarities, believe it or not, and follows the mould set by the previous two compilations, being a mixture of unrealised demos, B-sides and covers. As the title suggests, the songs are taken from the last three years of Turner’s careers, being particularly heavily focused on his most recent album, Tape Deck Heart.
Although the covers are nonetheless largely enthralling and entertaining, they are quite formulaic, with ‘Somebody To Love’ essentially a carbon copy of the Queen original, even down to the guitar solo. However, Turner’s voice is arguably so recognisable that even when singing covers of other artists’ songs, the songs come across as his own. The fingerpicking-style brought to ‘American Girl’ places a fresher spin on the Tom Petty classic, sounding more like an emotional set closer than the original’s fiery stomp. It’s unlikely that the Strokes would have been able to copy the intro from this version.
The three tracks originally featured on 2013’s Tape Deck Heart are presented here in demo or live format. Each version is perfectly listenable, but fans of the original tracks will find nothing particularly new here, save for a few vocal changes due to the live setting. ‘Hits & Mrs’, previously released on the Losing Days EP, shares such similar aesthetic to the Tape Deck Heart album that it arguably draws away from the track, as it makes it feel just like an unused offcut from the album’s sessions.
The political side of Turners’ work come to the fore during ‘Riot Song’, which spits angry bile towards the establishment, encouraging listeners to ‘step up and protect your own communities’. The melody of the track very much echoes ‘I Still Believe’, but with the nostalgia of old being replaced with a disenfranchisement with the present.
‘Fields of June’ acts as the first change in tone for the album, with Turner’s acoustic strumming replaced with muted guitar and accordion, with backing strings. The track is a duet with Emily Baker & the Red Clay Halo, who bring classical folk stylings to Turner’s album, complete with hand claps and fingerpicking. Turner’s duet with Jon Snodgrass on ‘Happy New Year’ is a very charming affair that adds an element of comedy which is largely lacking from the rest of the record.
Turner’s punk beginnings only come to the fore on the album’s closing track, ‘Dan’s Song’, which is a fun rabble-rousing track, ending the record on an upbeat note and remarking well upon Turner’s playful side, being much needed after the serious and sombre nature of many of the album’s tracks.
The album as a whole has enough charms to escape from being labelled a vanity project, however it is unlikely that it will attract Turner any new fans. The quality of the unreleased tracks only just make up for the fact that the majority of songs were previously available in different formats. Definitely one for the die-hards.