Most of the songs are original, but New York-based English singer-songwiriter Edward Rogers admittedly owes a big debt on his new album Kaye to its name-shortened namesake Kevin Ayers.
“I’d written a lot of songs, but couldn’t figure out what we were doing with them when I went into the studio with the band,” says Rogers. “Then I found out that Kevin Ayers died.” he continues. “I was a major fan.”
The influential founding member of England’s 1960s psychedelic band Soft Machine, Ayers died a year ago last February, at home in his sleep.
“There was a message on his bed that he’d written, ‘You don’t shine if you don’t burn.’ I took it and immediately wrote the song ‘Kaye’ and when we played it, it made every song fall into place. I could relate to every song through Kevin Ayer’s eyes. Honestly, it was magical.”
The project, produced by Don Piper and recorded live in the studio in three days at Brooklyn Recording, was released on Zip Records and features stellar players including guitarist James Mastro (Ian Hunter, Bongos), bassist Sal Maida (Roxy Music, Sparks, Cracker), drummer Dennis Diken (The Smithereens), keyboardist Joe McGinty (Psychedelic Furs), guitarist/vocalist Pete Kennedy (The Kennedys, Nanci Griffith) and backup singers Tish & Snooky (Sic F*cks).
Rogers wrote all the songs on Kaye except for his cover of Ayers’ 1974 single “After the Show.”
“The songs seem to have relationships to his life and meaning to it, and came together as a concept--which was never originally intended,” he notes. “It took on a whole vibe: I was doing a ‘Nuggets’ show recently at City Winery with Patti Smith’s players, and [bassist] Tony Shanahan told [guitarist and Nuggets album producer] Lenny Kaye that the album was dedicated to him! I told Lenny, ‘Don’t open it until you get home!’ Hopefully he wasn’t miffed, because it has nothing to do with him whatsoever!”
Rogers will now celebrate the release of Kaye Sunday night (Aug. 17) at Joe’s Pub, where he’ll be accompanied by most of the musicians on the album. The gig follows his opening slot on Zombies’ lead singer Colin Blunstone’s recent U.S. solo tour—Rogers having helped compile the 1995 CD anthology Some Years: It's the Time of Colin Blunstone.
“It was such a pleasure to do,” says Rogers. “Beyond a friend, Colin is just an amazing man. He was out there for every soundcheck just making sure I sounded okay, and was always at the side of the stage to greet us and wish us well. So it was absolutely a privilege to do his dates—he gave me confidence and tips to be more comfortable on stage.”
Following Joe’s Pub Rogers has dates slated with English singer-songwriter John Ford.
Meanwhile, Rogers, who has previously released four solo albums and two with Brit-folk inspired trio Bedsit Poets (the name was given to them by Blunstone), is hoping to resume his radio gig, having co-hosted the Brit-centric Atlantic Tunnel on the now defunct East Village Radio. He reports interest from two stations in reviving the show.
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