Roger Roger - From The Archives 1 [Parry Music, 199?]

Good Morning, Dad! Better hurry up!
Don't want to be late! Today is yr
day, time to roll up yr shirtsleeves
and work to make this world a better

Imagine a harried man in a tweed suit, leaping hedges to rush to his Buick Skylark with the tailfins, but wearing a beatific smile all the while.
This is the world conjured by French composer Roger Roger, the man with two first names. He got his start early, studying piano, voice, composition, and conducting, by the age of 5, thanks to his father, who studied alongside Debussy at the Conservatory. Along with his classical studies, he also devoured 'pop' sheet music from America, becoming fascinated with Gershwin, and Cole Porter, much to his father's chargrin. This gumbo of 'high' and 'low' culture would froth and boil over, in his post-war 'mood music'. By the time of his retirement, he claimed to have writter for over 50 radio productions, as many television programs, and have had his music in over 500 films! He primarily composed for Library Music stalwarts Chappell Music.

Not all of his music was hedgerows and dinner parties, however. He also scores the shadowy underbelly of things on this collection, conjuring phosphorescent streetlamps, simmering femme fatales, harrowing storms, and lurking shadows on tracks 'Flood Tide', 'Moving Shadows', 'Dangerous Mission', 'Action Ahead', and 'Mist of Fear'. But the majority of this album is comprised of the jaunty, optimistic sound of the '50s, evoking the glamour of industry and of the spreading suburbs, tiptoeing through tulips to a brave new tomorrow. The 'Twenties Suite' suggests a watered down Gatsby-esque society, Scott Joplin ragtimes with the edges sanded down, smooth as vermouth. 'Broadway Opening', 'Busy Streets', 'Morning Sunshine', and 'Busy Bodies', are a morning commute to the frantic world of the city of commerce, with 'Busy Bodies' stopping uptown afterwards to sip a martini and listen to some hip jazz. 'Epsom Race', 'Greenland Sleigh Dogs', and 'Western Montage' are pure adrenaline and adventure; wide open skies, far away from those bustling streets.

Every track on here has a cinematic quality to it, but not being composed for a particular project, they have a generic quality, to be used in a wide variety of situations, a peculiar trait of Library Music. Not as daring as say, a Bernard Hermann score, but that's par for the course.

This music is truly of its own time, triumphantly blasting from commercials and films; a sliver of the zeitgeist of the era, in all its romanticism and idealism and forced positivity. Often, music sounding dated is a bad thing, but i find this kind of thing historically interesting. Sure, most of the songs are upbeat jaunty affairs and sound like something i would have played in high school band, but they are well written and enjoyable to listen to, and i like the way they put pictures in my head. If it were not for the noir set in the middle of the album, i don't know if i would ever enjoy this collection beyond novel appreciation, but i am a sucker for minor keys and intrigue. Personal preference.

The arrangements are masterful, and it is clear Roger Roger knew what he was doing, benefitting from his classical background. It is also clear that he was hard-working and industrious, as evidence from the amount of material he left behind. Apparently, he left behind a more experimental legacy under the pseudonym Cecil Leuter, exploring early electronics, but i have not heard that yet. Anyone interested in historical docucmentation, library or test card music, novelty kitsch records, or soundtracks would do themselves a favor and check out this man's work.

J. Simpson

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Weirdomusic Artist: Roger Roger [Cecil Leuter]
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Roger Roger - From The Archives 1