Electronic Artist ROB ASTOR Serves Up A Carnival Of Delights On Whimsical New Release YESTERYEAR CLASSICS
ROB ASTOR’s YESTERYEAR CLASSICS Is A Delightful Collection Of Popular Music From The Late 1800s To The Early 1900s
Best known for his New Age, Electronic, and Video Game influenced music, Rob Astor turned his artistic vision to the past to create his newest album YESTERYEAR CLASSICS. Delightfully charming, the selections on this set sound like the music played while riding a merry-go-round at a county fair. The titles are so well known and infectious in their delivery, the listener will find themselves humming along. After all, some of the tracks are so timeless, their very fiber is woven right into the fabric of human DNA.
“There’s a lot of music from that era I think popular culture tends to overlook,” Rob says of his latest effort. “Some of it certainly deserves to be remembered.” YESTERYEAR CLASSICS is like taking a stroll down memory lane.
Every track Rob Astor recorded was well known in their respective time periods (primarily using period instrument sounds), creating glimpses of history. Nostalgia not only surrounds the music, the music entices the listener to study the time frame more carefully, to fully appreciate where it originated and the conditions that inspired it.
More than half of the titles on YESTERYEAR CLASSICS are instantly recognized. Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” has to be one of the most beloved songs of all time. Who could possibly forget “Give My Regards To Broadway”? Or the highly unusual melody of “Daisy Bell (A Bicycle Built For Two)”? It’s all in our genome!
Still other tracks have fared well in later decades. “Hello Ma Baby (Telephone Rag)” may best be remembered as the song sung by Michigan J. Frog in a 1950s Warner Bros. cartoon. “I remember seeing it at least a hundred times on Saturday mornings watching the Bug Bunny Show as a kid,” Rob recalls fondly. “Everyone wanted to see the frog sing in front of anyone and make that poor man a fortune.”
Important historical events are also connected to several of the titles on YESTERYEAR CLASSICS. The lament of “When The Lusitania Went Down” marks the point in history where The War To End All Wars (World War I) was in full swing. Civilians were no longer safe from brutal attack. The patriotic anthem “Over There” became a rallying call for the United States to join the European struggle against the oppression of Germany.
Rob Astor also recorded three tracks closely tied to the most famous shipwreck in history, the Titanic. The first, “Eternal Father, Strong To Save” (also known as “The Naval Hymn” and “For Those In Peril On The Sea”), reminds us how much of, and how important, spiritual influences were in music of the past. The other two pieces, “Nearer My God To Thee” and “Songe d’Automne (Dream Of Autumn)” vie for the honor of being the last piece of music performed as the ship sank. The latter, penned by Archibald Joyce, while not represented in filmed versions of the disaster, probably holds a stronger claim as many survivors said this was the last piece of music they heard. The version included on Rob Astor’s YESTERYEAR CLASSICS is downright ghostly, sounding as if it’s bubbling up through water about midway through.
Rounding out the set are varied pleasures in the form of southern charm in “Old Folks At Home (Swanee River)”, rollicking fun in “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home?”, burlesque Vaudevillian in “You Made Me Love You (I Didn’t Want To Do It)”, warm orchestration in Irving Berlin’s “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”, and flights of fancy “In My Merry Oldsmobile” and “Come Josephine, In My Flying Machine”.
The cover art, created by Harry Dart circa 1900, reflects the mood of society before the first world war. In retrospect, everyone seemed carefree. People thought they could master anything. They dreamed of a future free of all worries and ailments. So, it’s fitting the picture goes with Rob Astor’s recordings of YESTERYEAR CLASSICS. The carefree spirit returns.