This could quite easily be the summer of 1976, standing in a record store and holding this album. Steely Dan, Roxy Music, Pink Floyd, 10cc, The Alan Parsons Project, Genesis, Frank Zappa…and who the heck is Rog & Glenn? I took it straight to a friend’s house, and we had a listen. Needless to say, it just about took our faces off. This is the winter of 2013, the album is, “Close The Club,” yet it still has that ’76 effect. An amazing display of power and finesse, from a duo that have been writing and recording music together, since 1986.
Glenn Hubbard is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who has worked with more great musicians than he can count. Roger Brandon has kept a lower profile on the music scene but has also worked with an impressive cast of characters and has been a prolific creative force for many years. According to the duo; “This album is a new approach to songwriting, production, and collaboration between musicians, combining elements of progressive rock, improvisational jams, dance music, and even a touch of Broadway…”
The duo credits much of the album’s inspiration to an unusual approach to songwriting, which they say they stumbled into accidentally. “We used to write one song at a time, starting with a seed of an idea and working on it until we had a complete recording,” Brandon said. “This time, we came in with hardly any song ideas, so we just jammed.”
“We set up a keyboard and microphone for each of us, hit record, and let it flow,” said Hubbard. The approach resulted in a surprisingly large quantity of partially written songs, which the artists then spent months refining.
So what exactly is “Close The Club?” An album reminiscent of rock’s golden era, which is still very much ahead of its time – pop and progressive rock – spacey but not druggy – acoustic but not unplugged – jazzy without being jazz – conceptual without being a concept album, with each song flowing beautifully into the next. Rog & Glenn’s music is punctuated with constantly shifting tempos and equally complex time signature changes. Their musicianship rivals or surpasses that of the majority of their indie contemporaries, and unlike many groups with stellar musicians, their songs still flow effortlessly together, never staying one place long enough to become stale, repetitive or overly self-indulgent.
From the opening “That’s What You Get,” to the loud and racy, “Thing That Goes,” until the quieter closing title track, “Close The Club,” the incredible dynamics that were the hallmarks of 70’s progressive rock music, are ever present. For a 2013 recording, the production work here is nothing less than extraordinary, while the song arrangements sound incredibly retro and vibrant, it has all the impact and power you’d expect from a modern production.
Brandon and Hubbard say much of the album has the spontaneous feel of newly inspired ideas, because that’s precisely what it is: improvisational songwriting recorded for posterity. “We want people to understand that this is a recording of two guys having a great time and experiencing the reward that only a creative process can offer,” Hubbard said.
Choosing the standout tracks here, are quite simply child’s play for a 70’s connoisseur, like myself; “One Of Them,” “Good As Advertised,” “Have A Good Time,” “Hit The Wall,” “PR KMA,” “Fake It,” and “Close The Club,” quite simply hold their own. Of the 3500 albums in my rock collection, this one will definitely find its proud place on the shelf alongside the others.
Other musicians on the album include Jeremy Cayton on drums and Shawn Roberts on auxiliary percussion. “Those guys are amazing,” Brandon said. Two of the songs also feature lead guitar work by Rusty Blanton, whom Hubbard credits as one of his greatest musical influences. “He’s a western North Carolina guitar god,” Hubbard said. “We’re so lucky to have him on this record.”
If you too are a nostalgic rock fan, tired of samples, loops and wavs, what are you waiting for? A week ago I also never knew who Rog & Glenn were? Now they’re constantly on my stereo…on repeat play!
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