Stan Rogers,
The Very Best of Stan Rogers
(Borealis, 2011)

There aren't a lot of people sitting on the fence when it comes to Stan Rogers. Either you love the man and his music, or you've never heard him before.

If you're in the latter category, now is the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to The Very Best of Stan Rogers. Although his life was cut tragically short in 1983 at the age of 33, his music continues to awe and inspire music fans around the world, even as it remains standing as a pinnacle of Canadian songwriting.

Fans will no doubt have the 16 tracks here already, but they still might want to avail themselves of this new collection. The songs were selected by Stan's wife, Ariel Rogers, and his long-time producer, Paul Mills, and each track was remastered for this Borealis release. For non-fans, this is an excellent selection of his songs -- a quick way to experience, as the title suggests, some of Rogers' very best.

The album begins and ends with defining songs from Rogers' career: "Fogarty's Cove" and "The Mary Ellen Carter." In between, you'll find amazing pieces, including "Free in the Harbour," "White Squall," "Barrett's Privateers," "Forty-five Years" and "Northwest Passage." Each is a story, artfully written and masterfully performed.

In a better world, Stan Rogers would have been around for a long and productive career. Sadly, we must be satisfied with what he left us. This collection is a nice synopsis of his work, an introduction for some and a memento for others. Either way, it's well worth having.

music review by
Tom Knapp

2 April 2011

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