Edward Rogers: Rock ‘n’ Roll Never Forgets In New York Metropolis
As this album was coming together it became obvious to me that it had a 1970s theme to it… after i learned that Kevin Ayers passed away I obtained a hold of a few of the last phrases he’d written which were ‘you don’t shine if you do not burn…’ After that, your complete course of of making KAYE fell into place. Like a puzzle…”
To coin an angular phrase worthy of the above referenced legend, Edward Rogers is New York City rock ‘n’ roll’s “Ayers obvious.”
For many of us, to traverse the streets of new York City in the present tense, particularly in singer — songwriter Edward Rogers’ decrease Manhattan Astor Place neighborhood, is to dance among the many ghosts of artists priced out of the environs, the soulless steel and glass buildings wherein romantic tenements rued; the rock clubs, mom and pop establishments and record outlets replaced by telecommunications retailers and dear boutiques. To be a rock ‘n’ roll practitioner in this unusual place is to be an iconoclast and a dreamer — like Edward Rogers, and his mentor, Kevin Ayers.
For these of you, and there are understandably many, who are unaware of the life and work of Kevin Ayers, he was among the most significant British pop experimental recording artists who emerged from rock’s hallowed Canterbury Scene which flourished within the late 1960s-70s. An eccentric, prolific enigma, Mr. Ayers was a founding member of Gentle Machine, and collaborator with a who’s who list of icons you will have heard of: Brian Eno, John Cale, Phil Manzanera, and Mike Oldfield — among scores of others whom I am positive my readers will admonish me for not citing. Ayers’ imprint on indie and mainstream rock artists of the past twenty years is indelible — but fame was not in the playing cards for Kevin – not that I believe he cared much.
Edward Rogers was born in Birmingham, England. His mother and father pulled up stakes, and Edward, and migrated to the United States just because the British rock world was undergoing a historic transformation with Jeff Beck, The Who, Cream, PP Arnold, The Good, Manfred Mann — all of whom Edward saw on transient summer time journeys again to his homeland. “It was the worse time ever” recalls Rogers “all the pieces was taking place in the UK! And I used to be in Rhode Island, of all bloody places.” Nevertheless there have been perks to being a Brummie in America. “I didn’t notice that having slightly longer hair would have such a powerful impression — particularly on the ladies! They consistently inquired if I knew John, or George, or Ringo, or Paul. It introduced me out of a shell, although the bad information was that I turned a risk to the jocks and the straight-laced establishment.”
Luckily for Edward his family finally moved a bit south to New York Metropolis at the daybreak of the punk revolution. When a rocker approached him and declared “you are going to be a drummer in my band” his life modified. Rogers gladly tossed apart his properly-paying legislation firm job “which financed my velvets and satins, after which some. From then on I copied everything Clem Burke (Blondie) stone island sweatshirt choice did!” Behind the equipment with such bands as the Overnights and Route sixty six, Edward revels in telling struggle stories of stone island sweatshirt choice early, raucous gigs with the Smithereens, beating out the Stray Cats at an extended Island Battle of the Bands contest, and his shock at gazing out into the viewers of the legendary Kenny’s Castaways on Bleeker Road (which is now a sports bar) one bleary night solely to appreciate that Mick Jagger and Al Pacino were fixated on him.
Though an accident essentially ended his career as a drummer, Edward was reborn as a singer — which is his natural habitat — Rogers belongs under the highlight, not behind it. As was his destiny, Edward met the appropriate people at the fitting time whereas he “by no means worked and studied so arduous in my life” to develop into a vocalist. He served a musical conductor for a bona fide (and thankfully still functioning) New York City rock institution — The Losers Lounge — based by Joe McGinty (Psychedelic Furs, Kevin Ayers, Ryan Adams, Martha Wainwright, amongst others) which is a loose assemblage of musicians who tribute iconic artists ranging from Neil Diamond to The Cure. After his bravura performance of The Zombies “I love You,” fellow Lounge performer Pierce Turner hugged him and pronounced “now you are a singer — now you are certainly one of us!”
Turner’s proclamation was seconded when Edward passed an audition earlier than his heroes Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T. Rex), Clem Burke, and Tony Shanahan (Patti Smith Group), among others for a Marc Bolan and T. Rex tribute. “When Tony looked at me in the eye and mentioned ‘you are in mate’ I delved deeper into my singing lessons.” Edward’s development as songwriter arrived at the chance assembly of George Usher (The Decoys, Beat Rodeo, The Bongos, Home of Usher) with whom he nonetheless collaborates.
As well as to two highly acclaimed albums as a member of the Bedsit Poets with Amanda Thorpe and Mac Randall (The Summer That Modified, Rendezvous), Rogers’ solo cannon is quite spectacular. Sunday Fables (2004), You have not Been The place I’ve been (2008) displayed promise aplenty. Yet Rogers’ participating Sparkle Lane (2010) assortment, which drew inspiration from his Birmingham cultural and familial roots and emigration to the USA, and the glam moxie of Porcelain (2011) which was fueled by the artist’s love, surrender, and devotion to all things early 1970s Brit rock – is the stuff of observational genius in the tradition of Ray Davies, Ian Hunter, and Colin Blunstone — the latter two of whom at the moment are Edward’s beloved colleagues. “Music has been wonderful to me — the individuals who I used to be fans of are actually mates of mine.”
To converse with Edward about his new album KAYE is to witness a man on a mission. “I devoted this album to Kevin Ayers as a result of he is a kind of people who have not received his simply rewards. Some of it was his own fault,” Edward continues, “he actually had a self-destructive aspect to his character and life. Still, he was one of the nice songwriters of his generation with an amazing physique of labor — he deserves to be on the market!”
Produced by Don Piper, whom Edward reveals “pointed me in the right direction 9 out of ten times,” the assemblage of musicians on KAYE created the perfect storm to bring Rogers’ imaginative and prescient to fruition. KAYE is a fierce track-cycle with tender moments tempered by sonic outbursts which ebb and stream from track to track. Much reward must be afforded Rogers’ cadre of co-players: guitarists Piper, James Mastro (Ian Hunter, Bongos) Pete Kennedy (The Kennedys) Don Fleming (Velvet Monkeys); bassist Sal Maida (Roxy Music); keyboardist Joe McGinty, and cameos by George Olson on trumpet, and legendary downtown trend denizen backing-vocalists Tish & Snooky, amongst others.
“Road Vogue” evokes the trashy art-rock stuff of bassist Maida’s former ensemble. As is the responsibility of many an artist, Rogers spits out reality to energy within the scathing “What’s Happened to the News Immediately” — to which Edward lectures to this author “the place do the Kardashians even advantage a point out in my life!” Says Edward of the observe “My Road” — “I needed to write a tune like Ray Davies — I was thinking ‘Dead Finish Avenue’ as I believed I used to be going to spend the remainder of my life on Edgewater Highway in Birmingham – a lot of my buddies did.” The maddest cut on KAYE stems from a late night jam which was edited from 28:00 to 8:00 entitled “Peter Pan’s Dream” wherein McGinty, Mastro, and Maida tear right into a bitches brew of angular counter-melodies as Rogers croons melancholy over the mayhem — “we cut it thinking how would Kevin Ayers would sound if he had been alive right this moment.”
Edward’s rendition of Kevin Ayers’ “After the Show” stays faithful to the original — appropriately — though Mr. Ayers would have welcomed Tish & Snooky’s backing vocal assist which quotes the legendary Thunderthighs (Lou Reed’s “Stroll on the Wild Aspect,” Mott the Hoople’s “Roll Away the Stone”) in spirit and execution. The title track, with its waltz groove, intones Ayers’ dying mantra “you don’t shine if you don’t burn…
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