Sightseeing Thru Music
published: 8 /
Gare du Nord
Highly recommended. album from Spring ‘68, which is inspired by its creator Edward Rogers' fascination with the music and culture of late ‘60s France.
The debut release from Spring ’68, ‘Sightseeing Thru Music’, was created by Edward Rogers and inspired by his fascination with the music and culture of late ‘60s France. Having time during insolation brought on by the pandemic, Rogers sent the eleven pieces that comprise ‘Sightseeing Thru Music’ to producer Don Piper to add his magic touch along with guitar, keys, percussion and loops. But the collection of pieces is not just the work of the duo; without Sal Maida’s bass skills, Geoff Blythe’s saxophone, Don Fleming’s contribution on fuzz guitar and Tricia Scotti adding her vocals to Rogers own it would have had an entirely different vibe.
Confession time; reading that the album was the debut release initially led me to thinking that this was a new band/collective but the opening track, the instrumental ‘A Romantic Paris-Spring ’68 Part 1’, gave notice that here was a group of musicians and a couple of producers (Piper co-produced with Rogers) who knew their stuff. Funky beats, a sax floating out of an open window, angelic, wordless vocals. It’s simply a groove that can’t fail to lift the spirits and place the listener, even as winter approaches, in a brighter place just as the world is beginning to wake again from its winter slumber. It’s an uplifting piece and the perfect way to start the album. Whoever Rogers and company are they’re certainly accomplished at what they do and the feeling is that Spring ’68 can’t possibly be their introduction into the music scene given that wonderful, inspiring piece of opening music.
Then ‘High On Happiness’ kicks in, and that voice sounds vaguely familiar ; the song comes from a completely different place to that breezy, funky opener; rasping vocals which are almost unsettling. There’s so much going on behind them that it’s almost too much to take in at times but at the same time it demands to be listened to on headphones as you find yourself fascinated and drawn totally into the song. Then ‘I’m A Child Of The Universe’ arrives, again a totally different path; a glorious pop song, the vocals, again naggingly familiar. Despite the creators claim that the songs placed him in France 1968 there’s a decidedly ‘80s pop feel to not only this cut but to others on the album.
Then ‘Jane’ arrives on the scene. While admittedly there are lovely musical flourishes that do bring a French feel to the proceedings, the song, another beautiful melody, flawlessly produced and played still retains a certain Englishness. Once again, it’s a world away from the previous two songs but still they flow perfectly. It’s one of those songs so perfectly performed on all levels it’s impossible to shake it out of your head after just one play.
Those beats and distant sax return for ‘Today’s Waiting For Tomorrow’ this time coupled with a little of the edginess that surprised us on ‘High On Happiness’. Impossible to sit still to, if listening on headphones (as you should be) those around you will wonder why you suddenly started throwing weird shapes about. It’s infectious. ‘A Word Can Hurt Love So’ is a haunting, atmospheric piece showing yet another side to the talents contained within this extraordinary set of musicians.
There’s a reason we won’t write a few words about each separate track which we will get to shortly. Suffice to say ‘Sightseeing Thru Music’ is an exceptional set of songs; not able to say that each track takes a different road as the set closes with ‘A Romantic Paris- Spring ´68 Part 2’ which is a reworking of the opening song with vocals and which brings the creator's original idea for the project into focus, but there truly is so much to discover in each song and something new surfaces with each listen.
Space prevents us from writing a piece about each song as, at maybe the halfway point of the album, it suddenly dawned on this writer who those distinctive vocals belonged to and who was the major player in the conception of the album and I relish the chance to get his name and talent across to maybe a few more music lovers. I read the credits but it didn’t register at first that the Edward Rogers who gave birth to the project was the Edward Rogers. Not only has Rogers been involved in various side-projects through the years but he’s had a run of remarkable solo albums.
British-born but now NYC-based Rogers has issued many albums where he shows his love of ‘60s British pop openly while never looking too far back over his shoulder to make his work a mere copy. The band of slightly ‘eccentric’ Brits from that era throw shadows over his work. Names such as Kevin Ayres (Rogers recorded a tribute album to Ayres), Soft Machine, The Zombies, The Kinks, even Americans such as Lou Reed seep into the listener’s mind as his albums play out. Rogers has a talent of mixing his influences/possible musical heroes into his own songs and creating a fresh, new exciting sound. Head for http://www.edwardrogersmusic.com/home.html and discover just how talented Rogers is by taking a look at the three clips he has there for starters. ‘Imaginary Man’ from his latest solo album, ‘Catch A Cloud’ ( a brilliant collection of intelligent psychy pop songs featuring such guests as Marty Wilson-Piper on guitars and Pete Kennedy (The Kennedys) on electric sitar, worth the price of admission alone), ‘The Biba Crowd’, oh, what memories, from an earlier album ‘Porcelain’) and the nostalgic ‘Denmark Street Forgotten’. Those three samples of his work will have you needing to check out Rogers’s back catalogue. He never seems short of respected musicians to lend a hand and there’s little wonder why.
Without wishing to take anything away from ‘Spring ‘68’ really all Rogers' back catalogue is essential listening and if that extraordinary, inspiring album helps introduce a few more music fans to the talents of Rogers then it’s a good thing.
A Romantic Paris - Spring '68, Pt. 1
High on Happiness
I'm a Child of the Universe
Today's Waiting for Tomorrow
A Word Can Hurt Love So
A Role Model for Our Time
Last Odds n Ends
Taking a Day off from the World
Too Many Bloody Eyes
A Romantic Paris - Spring '68, Pt. 2
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