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Benjy says...

Hi ROA fans,

Falling Mirror

Falling Mirror - 'Making Out With Granny'

I hope you caught the interview with Falling Mirror on Thursday's show. I hadn't seen vocalist/lyricist Nielen Mirror for ages and he was the same zany off-the-wall and down-to-earth self that I remember from interviews in the early 80's ... full of manic energy, ideas and sheer enthusiasm for life. However the high point for me was the appearance on the show of guitarist Allan Faull; even in their heyday Allan was nowhere to be found when it came to publicity or public appearances, preferring to remain in the studio working away on his music .... Allan Faull was, in my opinion, arguably one of the finest guitarists in the world at the time and fully deserves his place on the Rock of Ages Fave Guitarists list .... For new fans of Falling Mirror we recommend that you get yourself a copy of the first two albums "Zen Boulders" and "The storming of the Loft", now available on one cd ... Coming soon will be the band's 3rd album "Fantasy Kid" twinned on one cd with the unreleased 1996 album "Hammerhead Hotel" .......... Next week's special will be Scottish 70's prog rockers Beggars Opera............

Beggars Opera

Beggars Opera

It is a bold step for any aspiring rock band to tackle the works of a great classical composer, especially on their first album. However, Beggars Opera were always brave and adventurous, both in their choice of material and musical philosophy. Whether performing original songs or applying their arranging skills to the compositions of others, this highly esteemed progressive group could always be relied on to deliver diverse and satisfying sounds. The band were signed to the Vertigo label in 1970, which, like EMI's Harvest, was intended to be a haven for the ambitious and musically adventurous. The group came from Scotland and arrived on the scene at a time when bands like Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull and ELP were pushing forward the boundaries of rock. It was perfectly acceptable to mix elements of classical music, folk, jazz and rock in the spirit of adventure that prevailed after The Beatles had set so many trends in the Sixties. Even Led Zeppelin, kings of hard rock, were eager to experiment, as their extensive use of Eastern sounds and acoustic guitars confirmed.

Vertigo, with its famous spiral label, provided a healthy environment for equally adventurous groups like Colosseum and Manfred Mann's Chapter Three. In this productive atmosphere it was appropriate for Beggars Opera to adopt a sophisticated musical policy. This commitment to excellence would flower over a succession of albums in which the band's style would perceptibly alter with their changing moods and ideas. The band's line-up consisted of Martin Griffiths (lead vocals), Alan Park (organ, piano), Ricky Gardiner (lead guitar, vocals), Gordon Sellar (bass, acoustic guitar, vocals), Ray Wilson (drums) and on occasion Virginia Scott (mellotron and vocals).

While the group lacked the kind of mass acceptance that pushed Genesis into the super league, they had many loyal fans and Beggars Opera were clearly a band with enormous potential. They took their name from the well-known and highly successful play by the English poet John Gay. Written in 1728, The Beggar's Opera earned the composer the sum of 1,000 pounds, a fortune by 18th Century standards. Alas, like many a 20th century rock musician, Gay lost most of his money in ill-advised speculation involving the financial crash known as the South Sea Bubble.

'Act One', the band's debut album, was released in 1970 and impressed with its blend of artistry and blend of influences. One of the highlights was their clever arrangement of Suppe's popular 'Poet And Peasant Overture'. The original work is rich in contrasts and has a witty and emotional exuberance that makes it an irresistible climax to any concert of popular classics. One critic remarked that "The Peasant suffers from Suppe's congenital inability to stop!" It certainly makes a useful vehicle for a modern rock group.

After the success of 'Act One', Beggars Opera went on to produce several more fine, albums including 'Waters Of Change' (Vertigo) in 1971, which saw the arrival of Virginia Scott on the mellotron. The mellotron was an early attempt at a sampling machine. Tape loops of pre-recorded strings stored inside the machine could be activated by a keyboard, which produced a haunting sound beloved by The Moody Blues and Genesis. There was a touch of mellotron on the band's celebrated version of Jim Webb's 'MacArthur Park', featured on their third album, 'Pathfinder' (Vertigo) released 1972. Pathfinder This poignant epic was a huge hit for actor Richard Harris in 1972. Both these vintage albums are now available on Repertoire CDs and are well worth seeking out. As the Seventies progressed, Beggars Opera remained busy in the studios and released another album, 'Get Your Dog Off Me' (Vertigo) in 1973, which saw the return of Virginia Scott, on her trusty mellotron. 'Sagittary' was issued on the Jupiter label in 1974 and the band's final efforts, 'Beggars Can't Be Choosers' (Jupiter) and 'Lifeline' (Vertigo) were released in 1979 and 1980 respectively. By the end of the Seventies, the heyday of progressive rock was largely over, submerged by the arrival in turn of punk, heavy metal and techno and the band split up.

Rock of Ages's recommendations

Eric Burdon

Eric Burdon

Highly regarded as one the greatest white British blues/R&B shouters of the 60's Eric Burdon has had a chequered career since bailing out of the Animals in the latter part of that decade: discovering the mind altering properties of LSD he first led the Animals into psychedelic territory with albums like "Winds of change" and "The twain shall meet" before reinventing himself as the Lord of Funk Rock with the band War and hits like "Tobacco Road" and "Spill the wine". By the mid 70's however he seemed to have burnt out as an artist and after a series of patchy albums Burdon faded from the greater rock conciousness and although he has continued to record it's been a long, long time since he made a record worth raving about ..... Thankfully his new album "A soul of a man" is a true return to form. With a red hot ensemble behind him Eric's blues drenched vocals tackle songs by the likes of the legendary Blind Willie Johnson, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Chester Burnett. If you are a bonefide blues fan then its worth investing in.

Strangely strange but oddly normal - an Island anthology

Strangely strange but oddly normal - an Island anthology

I have had a whole bunch of stuff arrive from overseas recently and none more exciting than "Strangely strange but oddly normal - an Island anthology". Island Records was the first and most successful independent label, signing some of the most important and influential rock, jazz and folk artists including Free, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Traffic, John Martyn, Spooky Tooth, Nick Drake, Fairport Convention and many more. This amazing 3 CD box set charts the period 1967-1972 when the label was at it's creative peak. With it's wonderfully eclectic music selection and an accompanying 48 page booklet this is a must for any self respecting rock fan!

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The views, opinions, rants, raves and ramblings expressed on this website are the author's own and in no way reflect the views of Radio 2000 or the SABC.

Latest Playlist
News from the
World of Rock
Jim 'n Bob again?
There's been no official comment, but there just might be something brewing between LED ZEPPELIN leaders Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. The pair has been estranged for a few years, with Plant repeatedly saying he has no interest in revisiting the past. However, while neither man is currently on tour, they were both in Los Angeles last week, and they stayed at the same hotel. Of course, that could just be a coincidence, but photographer Ross Halfin wrote in his online diary at that he was with both men in L.A. in separate incidents, and that Plant was "in town with Jimmy Page".

Depeche Sims
Depeche Mode have added yet another string to their bow by writing a new song sung in an entirely made up language. The eighties band have recorded the weird song for the computer games series, 'The Sims'. The made up language has been named 'Simlish' and the Mode have covered their track 'Suffer Well' entirely in 'Simlish' ... they are hoping the move will introduce their music to a new generation of fans.

Who's best
THE WHO's upcoming world tour is expected to be the last time the legendary rock band hit the stage. The odyssey, which kicks off this summer (06), lasts a hefty 18 months - because the band want as many people as possible to have a chance to catch them before they hang up their guitars. Lead singer Roger Daltrey says, "There is a large audience of young people who have never seen The Who live. "This will give them the chance. It will also give me the chance to play with the band I love, maybe for the last time."

Pretenders Box
American expatriate Chrissie Hynde formed The Pretenders in 1978 while working in London and continues to be the band's driving force today. More than 25 years after the hard rocking quartet's original lineup - Hynde, guitarist James Honeyman Scott, bassist Pete Farndon and drummer Martin Chambers - launched the band's hit-making expedition, Rhino Records shivers ye timbers with PIRATE RADIO. The Pretenders' career-spanning boxed set includes four discs and a single DVD and is available March 14. The collection - 81 tracks and 19 videos - contains more than five hours of The Pretenders' best from all eight of the band's studio recordings plus soundtrack contributions and live recordings.

Glitter Guilty
A Vietnamese court on Friday sentenced former British glam rocker Gary Glitter to three years in prison for molesting two Vietnamese girls, with the judge condemning him for "disgusting and sick" behavior. Glitter, 61, whose real name is Paul Francis Gadd, was found guilty of committing obscene acts with two girls, ages 10 and 11, at his rented seaside villa in southern Vung Tau last year.

Pistols Sellout
The Sex Pistols are set to sell their back catalogue for a host of new advertising campaigns according to reports.

With Universal Music Publishing buying the rights to Johnny Rotten & Co's material the company is looking to make millions of pounds from allowing advertisers to use the songs. The Times reports that several companies including British Airways and Range Rover have already showed an interest while tracks may be used for TV and film soundtracks too.

Metallica to Induct Sabbath
METALLICA have released the following update:
"So there we are, hanging out at HQ getting ready for our first visit to South Africa, and a call comes in wondering if we can leave a few days early and stop by New York to induct a bunch of guys from Birmingham, England (they're called BLACK SABBATH, you might've heard of them) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It took us all of 3/4 of a second to say "fuck yeah!!" Not only will we be inducting SABBATH, we are going to make a humble attempt at playing some of their songs live in front of the gathered masses, including, most humbling of all, the four members of the band themselves.
Live Gigs
Jack Hammer Cape Tour

11 March 2006 (Saturday): Straatfees, Victoria Street, Stellenbosch
12 March 2006 (Sunday): Die Boer, Durbanville (021) 979-1911 R70 @ person
16 March 2006 (Thursday): Dorpstreet Theatre/Teater, Stellenbosch (021) 886-6107 R60 @ person
17 March 2006 (Friday): Bertie's Mooring, Gordon's Bay (021) 856-3343
18 March 2006 (Saturday): Melkbosskerm, Melkbosstrand

Lancaster Band

17 March Independent Armchair Theatre

Stoned Goblin

11 March Hidden Cellar, Dorp Street, Stellenbosch
17 March The One Ring, Obs
18 March Cool Runnings, Obs
24 March Hidden Cellar, Dorp Street, Stellenbosch
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Benjy Mudie
Benjy Mudie with Void in the late 70's Benjy Mudie 2004
Then Now

Benjy Mudie was inducted into the South African Rock Hall Of Fame on 14th August 2002. Of Scottish origin, Mudie started out in the music industry working in record shops. He later became the A&R man for WEA records, signing such luminaries as Lesley Rae Dowling, Baxtop and Falling Mirror. He has ventured briefly into the realms of songwriting, getting co-writing credit for Little Sister's song 'You Got My Heart', but it is mainly for his running of record labels, notably Tusk and more recently Fresh and Retro Fresh that he is honoured. With these labels he has tirelessly dedicated himself to putting South African music out there, showing an unshaking belief in the quality of SA music.


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