Saturday, 4 January 2014

“Home Free/Souvenirs” by DAN FOGELBERG (2006 Beat Goes On 2CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...When Faced With The Past...The Strongest Man Cries…"

Dan Fogelberg’s particular way with a melody has always tugged at my heart strings – and this genuinely classy Beat Goes On 2CD reissue of his first two albums from the early Seventies – only hammers home that great way he had with words about hurt and love – and all of it wrapped up in a fiendishly hooky Eagles-like Country Rock tune. Here are the hickory groves, changing horses and songs from half mountain…

UK released May 2006 - "Home Free/Souvenirs" by DAN FOGELBERG on Beat Goes On BGOCD 709 (Barcode 5017261207098) breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (46:58 minutes):
1. To The Morning
2. Stars
3. More Than Ever
4. Be On Your Way
5. Hickory Grove
6. Long Way Home ((Live In The Country) [Side 2]
7. Looking For A Lady
8. Anyway I Love You
9. Wysteria
10. The River
Tracks 1 to 9 are his debut album “Home Free” issued in the USA in October 1972 on Columbia KC 31751 and 1974 in the UK on Epic S EPC 31847 (re-issued in July 1976 on Epic 80697 in the UK).
[Note: earlier CD issues of this album have tended to use a ‘remixed’ version of the album that was done in the Eighties. This CD uses the original master tape - so is the album as heard on release].

Disc 2 (43:29 minutes):
1. Part Of The Plan
2. Illinois
3. Changing Horses
4. Better Change
5. Souvenirs
6. The Long Way
7. As The Raven Flies [Side 2]
8. Song From Half Mountain
9. Morning Sky
10. (Someone’s Been) Telling You Stories
11. There’s A Place In The World For A Gambler
Tracks 1 to 11 are his 2nd LP released December 1974 in the USA on Full Moon Records PC 35872 and March 1975 in the UK on Epic EPC 80623.

His debut is good rather than being great but already had his melody strengths on show - a sort of singer-songwriter lone Eagles persona. Tracks like the piano opener “To The Morning” and the largely acoustic “Be On Your Way” are melancholic but also beautiful in their way. It’s been years since I first heard these songs (now sounding crystal clear) and a full forty years plus - it’s impressive stuff (like a male Judee Sill). But things took a quantum leap with LP number two...

With guest appearances on illustrious albums like “So What” by Joe Walsh, “Late For The Sky” by Jackson Browne and “Peace On You” by Roger McGuinn of The Byrds – Dan Fogelberg was already moving in elevated circles when he went to make the gorgeous “Souvenirs” album. Packed with catchy tunes and even a chart hit or two - this hugely polished effort put the album into the Top 50 charts in late 1974. “Part Of The Plan” was even lifted as a 7” single and did reasonably well.

Produced by JOE WALSH - “Souvenirs” featuring most of the Eagles (Henley, Meisner, Frey), Graham Nash, Kenny Passarelli, Russ Kunkel, Joe Lala and Al Perkins - the musician credits reads like a whose who of what was hot at the time. In the USA it was issued as a gatefold sleeve but in the UK as a single sleeve with a lyric insert. This CD reproduces the inner American artwork (a painting of his) and the lyrics for both LPs. The John Tobler liner notes are excellent (features an interview with Joe Walsh).

But the big news for me is the sound. I had “Souvenirs” on a 2007 Japanese remaster and 5” card repro sleeve - and that was good - this remaster is light years better. ANDREW THOMPSON did the remaster at Sound Mastering in London (he handles large numbers of BGO’s reissues) and his transfer here has brought out Walsh’s accomplished original production values. You can hear the squeaking of strings, air around the instruments - even the normally muddied “Part Of The Plan” sounds more open. There are so many goodies on here - a plaintive “The Long Way” and the gorgeous title track “Souvenirs” (lyrics from it title this review). “Song From Half Mountain” where he plays all the instruments himself is so pretty and the chugging Eagles Rock of “Someone’s Been telling You Stories”. “Changing Horses” and “Better Change” still stand up as great melodies - only the countrified “Morning Sky” lets the side down. All in all - moving stuff.

I posted a note on Fogelberg’s website when he sadly succumbed to cancer in December 2007 - yet another teenage hero of mine gone to the great gig in the sky.

“There’s a song in the heart of a woman...that only the truest of loves can release. Set it free...” These lyrics from the album finisher “There’s A Place In The World For A Gambler” get me to this day - nearly 40 years after the event. My younger sister Cathy even described him once as ‘beautiful’.

Well - now Dan is free - and this beautiful-sounded 2CD does his memory proud...

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