Don Fogelberg’s first album, 1972’s Home Free, received little notice or acclaim. A lot must have happened in two years as Fogelberg returned in 1974 with the polished and well-crafted Souvenirs album. Souvenirs went double platinum in sales, produced the hit single “Part Of The Plan” and established Fogelberg as an accomplished singer/songwriter who would sell millions of albums during the course of his career.
This disc is interesting in that it finds a young Fogelberg exploring different musical styles. The up-tempo songs and the ballads provide a balance that many of his future and most popular albums would not have. It also find Fogelberg developing his studio technique. Fogelberg overdubs his voice until it sounds like a choir. Later albums would polish this technique and make it a Fogelberg trademark.
It also helped that Joe Walsh produced the album and played guitar on ten of the tracks. Walsh also brought along such friends as Don Henley, Randy Meisner, Glenn Frey and Graham Nash. Throw in super session drummer Russ Kunkel and you have a solid foundation from which to create and build an album
“Part Of The Plan” leads off the album and would become Fogelberg’s first national hit. “Part Of The Plan” is an up-tempo pop rocker and is very different in style and tempo than most of his later ballad type hits. “Part Of The Plan” is also pop perfection. There is no lyrical angst here but just upbeat pop joy.
Perhaps the most interesting song on Souvenirs is “As The Raven Flies.” Every once in awhile, Fogelberg would just rock and that is what he does here. What is really unique is the Fogelberg-Walsh guitar interplay. Fogelberg’s guitar comes out of the right channel of the stereo mix and Walsh’s guitar out of the left. This was a tremendously innovative recording technique at the time and remains interesting over thirty years later.
Other highlights include “Better Change” with Walsh on guitar and Don Henley on drums and harmony. Throw in engineer Bill Szymczyk and you have a very Eagles sounding song. “Song From The Mountain” is an early sparse Fogelberg ballad that looks ahead to such classics as “Longer” and “Run For The Roses,” while “Morning Sky” is a good old country hoedown song. It makes one wish that Fogelberg would have mined this musical vein a bit more during his career.
Souvenirs has an excellent flow with pleasant vocals and solid song structure. While Fogelberg would provide a lot of fine music during the course of his career, Souvenirs remains one of his better efforts.