"Less Talk, More Rock"
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I'm partial to Steely Dan, particularly the early albums when they were more of an off-the-wall rock band than the slick rock-lite jazzers that they became in later years. I highly recommend the first 2 albums, "Can't buy a thrill" and "Countdown to ecstasy" where unsung guitar heroes Denny Dias and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter reel off some astounding licks ... I hope you enjoyed the special ..... This coming week it is the turn of Dutch proggers Focus who sadly seemed to be only remembered for the zany "Hocus Pocus" when in fact they were much more than that ... as we will prove this Thursday.
The Focus Story
Focus leaned heavily on Thijs van Leer's talents, and on those of another of the Netherlands' contemporary music heavyweights, the guitarist Jan Akkerman, who joined the band in 1970. In 1971 the group released their second album, Moving Waves, which received international acclaim.Their biggest international hits were the guitar-based instrumental 'Sylvia', and the band's signature piece, the bizarre rondo 'Hocus Pocus'. (The title may have been a deliberate joke on DJs: "That was 'Hocus Pocus' by Focus"). It consisted of a striking rock-guitar chord sequence used as the recurring theme, and surprisingly varied episodes in between that included accordion playing, alto flute riffs, guitar improvisation, drum solos, whistling, nonsense vocals, falsetto singing, and yodeling. The musical egos of van Leer and Akkerman proved incompatible. In 1976 Akkerman left the band, which finally dissolved in 1978. However, in 1985 van Leer and Akkerman reunited for an unsuccessful Focus album. In 2001 van Leer re-formed Focus with musicians who had originally formed a Focus tribute band: Jan Dumée (guitar), Bobby Jacobs (bass) and Bert Smaak (drums). They recorded a new album called Focus 8. In October 2004 Pierre van der Linden took over on drums. He had been the drummer during the band's most successful period during the early 1970s.
Focus were in many people's minds the best band to come out of Holland in the 1970s. (Golden Earring's single Radar Love enjoyed more success, but Focus's musical achievements were more significant.) Their extended, almost exclusively instrumental, compositions and improvisations contained many clear references to the classical music canon. One notable example is the quoting of Monteverdi's landmark early opera Orfeo in their extended piece 'Eruption' on the album Moving Waves. Another demonstration of their stylistic awareness is in the well-constructed Bach-like counterpoint that begins 'Carnival Fugue' on the album Focus 3,
or the renaissance harmonic progression of 'Anonymus II' from the same album.Some feel their finest musical testament is Moving Waves (which included 'Hocus Pocus'). Others believe the peak was reached in 1972 with Focus 3. This included the sprightly jazz-tinged 'Round Goes The Gossip', and the band's biggest single success, the robustly lyrical Akkerman electric guitar vehicle 'Sylvia'. The second half of the album, where the tracks are extended up to 27 minutes, feature extended improvised solos. The interplay between keyboards, flute, guitar and even a penny whistle is of high standard .Still others believe that Focus's best and most impacting achievement was Hamburger Concerto, an LP which features four songs with varied influences ranging from jazz to classical to rock on the first side, including the songs 'Delitae Musicae', 'Harem Scarem', 'La Cathedrale de Strasbourg', and 'Birth', and the 20-minute title track on the second side.
Focus's main achievement in their short but bright heyday was that, unlike many other progressive rock groups of the time, they could construct valid structures over fairly large time scales, incorporating both rigorously composed material in the classical style, and rambling jazz-style improvisation. Their inventiveness and tongue-in-cheek stylistic references were also unusual in their wit and technical prowess. It is to the regret of many rock fans that the two major talents of Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman were unable to collaborate further, as together they were more than the sum of their formidable parts. The band leaves a small but significant contribution to the rock scene of the early 1970s....
- In and Out of Focus (January 1971)
- Moving Waves (October 1971)
- Focus III (November 1972)
- Focus at the Rainbow (October 1973)
- Hamburger Concerto (May 1974)
- Mother Focus (October 1975)
- Ship of Memories (September 1977)
- Focus con Proby (January 1978)
- Focus (August 1985)
- Focus 8 (January 2003)
- Live at the BBC (May 2004)
Rock of Ages's recommendations
Derek Trucks Band
You may recall that Richard Filmer mentioned the new Derek Trucks Band album "Songlines" on the show a couple of weeks ago? Well all I can say is that this is one of the best albums of the year so far. Fusing blues, rock, folk, country and Pakistani/Arabic strains, "Songlines" goes to places that no other rock musician, save perhaps Jeff Beck,has gone to. His unique slide guitarwork sends shivers up my spine on the 10 minute epic "Sahib Teri Bandi" - I have yet to ever hear a guitar played like that. Not for nothing does the esteemed Village Voice periodical call Derek Trucks "The holiest guitar in the West" .... if you like your rock a little adventurous then get this album, you will not be disappointed!
Rockspert of the week
Wearing the Rockspert crown this week is Chris Cole of Goodwood who correctly answered the final ELP question and won himself the Greg Lake 2 dvd set, courtesy of Gallo Music.
Winners of the Gary Puckett & the Union Gap cds (courtesy of Sony/BMG) were Tommy Lawrence (Kuils Rivier); Dennis Verity (Benoni) and Jill Salmond (Bellville) .... "What was Gary Puckett's biggest hit?" ... the answer of course was "Young girl".
NB Please allow 4-6 weeks for the prizes to arrive.
LAST CHANCE ........... To enter the David Gilmour competition - win one of five grand prizes of his new album "On an island" plus the "The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story double dvd (courtesy of Sony/BMG). You can enter this online competition here ...the draw will be on this week's show (Thursday 4th May).
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|News from the
World of Rock
Lennon Speaks... from the Grave
antiMusic reports: There are plenty of gullible morons in the world willing to fork over $9.95 to hear what John Lennon might have to say from the grave. Monday night's pay-per-view exploitation, oops special grossed close to $8 million according to the Reuters. And what did Mr. Lennon (or the show producers) wish to (have Lennon) say to the world 26 years after his death? "Peace ... The Message is Peace."
"Tell Paul his new album sucks" was leading the pool here at antiMusic. But Lennon still wants to talk about peace. Or at least that's what the producers said they captured with an EVP (the voice of a spirit captured on tape). Reuters reports, "The show's organisers said psychic Joe Power's voice feed went dead for a few seconds and the message was found on it when the tape of the voice feed was played back." we'll believe it when we read this headline "Psychic wins lottery".
No PC Needed To Be Sued by RIAA
A Rockmart, GA family is being sued for illegal music file sharing, despite the fact that they don't even own a computer.
After being shown a copy of the court filing, Walls said he found the whole thing bewildering. "I don't understand this," Walls said. "How can they sue us when we don't even have a computer?" (Can the family counter sue the RIAA for filing a frivolous lawsuit?)
Take the Reissue and Run
On June 27th, Capitol Records will release 30th Anniversary Edition Fly Like An Eagle by the Steve Miller Band. Fly Like An Eagle is one of the seminal rock albums of the 1970's and, thirty years hence, its hits are still staples at classic rock radio. The original album has been re-mastered for the CD and is presented in 5.1 Surround Sound on the accompanying DVD. Filmed in September 2005 at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA, the concert footage was taken straight from the live recording made for the giant screen close-ups the night of the show.
Page & Plant reunite
According to Led-Zeppelin.com, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are scheduled to perform together at the upcoming Montreux Jazz Festival for a tribute to Atlantic Record's founder Ahmet Ertegun on June 30th. Also scheduled on the bill are: Jeff Beck, Solomon Burke, Ben E. King and others.
According to Starpulse.com, Quentin Tarantino has reportedly signed on to direct the long-awaited Jimi Hendrix biopic. The movie maker is huge fan of the script of the film, according to producers at Dragonslayer Films, and will team up with Hendrix's brother Leon to tell the story of the guitar great's life.
Dark Side of the Globe
Roger Waters is coming to America. The former Floydster will hit North American shores for a string of shows beginning on September 6th. His touring band will include Andy Fairweather Low and Snowy White on guitar, drummer Graham Broad and Waters' son Harry on Hammond organ, according to Billboard.
Fans are in for a special treat as Waters plans to perform 'Dark Side Of The Moon' in it's entirety for the North American stops. Waters will also spend the summer in other parts of the world including a stop at the Rock in Rio festival and a swing through Europe and the controversial show in Israel.
Doors Offer Gigs
As part of their 40th anniversary celebrations, The Doors are to make more than a dozen shows, recorded between 1967 and 1970, available for download form their website, www.thedoors.com. Fans will have the option of buying specific tracks, or the whole concert. Much of the material comes from gigs recorded in 1970 for the album 'Absolutely Live'.
If you are looking for rare guitars then.......
......Visit Guitar Experience in Cape Town, call Andreas @ 082-44513 87 or visit www.guitarexperience.co.za
5th May Café Barcelona Pretoria
13th May Back to Basix, Westdene, Joburg
19th May Steak & Ale, Centurion
3rd May Pzazz, Bloemfontein
10th May Pulse, Die Waterkant Cape Town
12th May Tollies, Stellenbosch
14th May Hatfield Flea Market
17th May Bourbon Street, Potchefstroom
20th May FHM 100 Most sexiest women in the world function, Emmerentia
21st May 88 Lounge, Norwood
31st May Rhodes Drill Hall, Grahamstown
5 May Ladybrand
6 May The View, Clarens
26 - 28 May Loerie festival, Knysna
Back on Track
Every Saturday @ Cheetah's, Brackenfell CT from 5.30pm - play 60's/70's blues and rock
|You say it's your birthday...
No April birthday info at the moment...
Courtesy of About ClassicRock
|"Benjy says..." Archive
Stay tuned every Thursday 8-12pm for the best in classic rock on RADIO 2000.
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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