Edward Rogers

You Haven't Been Where I've Been

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There are literally tens of thousands of musicians who owe the Beatles a debt of influence, but it's one thing to borrow a bit of beat or jangle here or there and something else again to conclude your album with a reasonably accurate re-creation of Ringo Starr's drum solo from Abbey Road. Edward Rogers is clearly not your average Anglophile popmeister, but he's also good enough at what he does that his second album, You Haven't Been Where I've Been, manages to work despite its laundry list of stylistic appropriations. Rogers, a former member of the Bedsit Poets, produced You Haven't Been Where I've Been in collaboration with George Usher (whose résumé includes work with Beat Rodeo, Richard Barone and the Schramms), and they persuaded some A-list talent to join them for the sessions. That Byrds-style jangly guitar on "Blind Man's Blue" was played by Roger McGuinn himself, Marty Willson-Piper of the Church lends some potent guitar to "Graveyard Voices" and the epic-scale "What Happened to Manfred, What Happened to Jane," Pete Kennedy of the Kennedys also plays on the latter track, Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken keeps time on several numbers, and Mitch Easter lent his expertise to the final mix. But none of this would mean much if Rogers didn't have a way with a melody, and thankfully he can emulate the grace, force, and allure of mid-'60s U.K. pop with an impressive skill; the melancholy beauty of the string-infused "Far Reflection," the grooving garage-flavored undertow of "I Hear This Place Is Haunted," and the Burt Bacharach-influenced classicism of "Commodore Hotel" show he can actually add something to the musical traditions he follows, and his vocals walk a line between strength and vulnerability that suits these songs. The 17-minute closer "What Happened to Manfred, What Happened to Jane" (which closes with the aforementioned Ringo Starr homage) reveals Rogers biting off more than he can chew, but otherwise You Haven't Been Where I've Been is smart pop with a sense of both style and history, and it's bold, well-crafted stuff.

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