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Benjy says...

Greetings once again,

It has always amazed me that such a small country like Holland has produced such world class rock and prog-rock bands like Golden Earring, Alquin and the subject of last night's special, Focus. It's even more amazing to think that all three bands are still going strong, thirty odd years later. In the case of Focus they truly were an innovative band with their unique mix of classical, folk, jazz and rock influences topped off with touches of mock opera, renaissance music and zany vocal histronics. Thanks to the many fans that called in with their recollections of the band and their music. .......... next week's special will be a band that must rank as perhaps the most progressive and frontier-blazing group that this country has ever produced and one that was highly influential in shaping my appreciation of rock music ..... the visionary Freedom's Children.

Freedom's Children

Freedom's Children was formed in Durban in 1966 by Scottish-born bass player Ramsay Mackay, guitarist Ken E Henson, who had been playing in Leemen Limited, and drummer Colin Pratley, who had come down from Springs. Mackay, from Eshowe, had been playing in a group called Seven Faces. Oddly, according to Nic Martens, who would go on to play keyboards in Freedom's Children, another group, also calling itself Lehman Limited (spelling its name differently), and including himself, Mackay and Pratley, had existed in Pretoria the previous year. Martens says that he was unaware of Henson's band of almost the same name, and Ken E Henson was unaware of the other band.Anyway, Freedom's Children was formed, but without Martens. The original keyboard player was Jimmy Thompson. Martens joined the Noel McDermott Band, and then John E. Sharpe's Blues Band, where he played with Julian Laxton, who had been one third of folk trio Mel, Mel & Julian. The original version of Freedom's Children recorded two singles, The Coffee Song backed with a cover of the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction, and a cover of the Yardbirds' You're A Better Man Than I, backed with Mud In Your Eye. The next Freedom's Children line-up would also feature a Yardbirds song, Little Games, on a single. Henson left the band in 1968, going on to form the legendary Abstract Truth with Mike Dickman and Pete Measroch, and was replaced on guitar by Julian Laxton. Battle Hymn

Among others who spent a short time with - if perhaps not in - the band at this stage were keyboard players Craig Ross and Harry Poulos, who had been with Four Jacks & A Jill, and saxman Mike Faure.The group's first album came out that year, though it seems that the release of Battle Hymn Of The Broken Hearted Horde caused concern among the band members, at least one of whom was upset that it had been released at all. Bizarrely, it included a Pepsi Cola advert among the late psychedelia/early prog-rock of the rest of the record. Martens plays on the album, along with Mackay, Pratley, Laxton and a few guests, among whom, though not yet a member of the band, was vocalist Brian Davidson.South Africa has always been a small and relatively insignificant rock 'n' roll country, so Freedom's Children, like so many others, went to the UK. But the group could not get work permits to play over there, so they came back and went into the studio to prepare for the recording of their next - and best known - album, Astra. Astra

Astra was released in 1970 and has become one of SA rock's best-loved albums. By this time Brian Davidson was doing all the singing - though Mackay performs the recitation at the end - and Gerard Nel also played keyboards. It is apparently the only South African album to have been released in all possible formats, including 8-track tape and CD.It featured a song called The Kid He Came From Hazareth. This was originally The Kid He Came From Nazareth, but the old SABC called it blasphemous, and refused to playlist it. However, they would do so, they said, if the necessary changes were made, both to the song's title and lyrics. So they were, with the band actually re-recording the song to include the word "Hazareth". The song was later recorded by the group Wildebeest as Russian And Chips. Mackay once said about their gigs, that, "Some guys from the Dutch Reformed Church, the mayor & police came to see us, they said we were deranging the minds of our audiences."During 1970 Freedom's Children also played on three tracks of a Dickie Loader album in one of South African music's most unlikely collaborations. Ramsay Mackay then left the band, to be replaced on bass by Barry Irwin, this line-up recorded the third and last Freedom's Children album, Galactic Vibes, which included strings and a long Colin Pratley drum solo on the live version of the epic "The Homecoming". Galactic Vibes

Both Astra and Galactic Vibes were co-produced by then EMI A&R head Clive Calder who had this to say - "In my opinion Freedom's Children was then and probably still is today the only SA rock group that, given the right circumstances in the right geographical location, could have become an internationally successful rock band just by being themselves and doing what they did. "There have been some attempts at resurrecting the band over the years, one of which, in 1973, featured Trevor Rabin and Ronnie Robot; and a Ken E Henson/Colin Pratley Christian album entitled A New Day was released in 1990 under the Freedom's Children name. In 1996 Henson, Davidson, Mackay and three others recorded Mummies (Back From The Dead), but it remains unreleased.

Let's give Julian Laxton the last word. "I felt that we were doing something different," he said recently. "I still do." ..... Courtesy of Richard Haslop / SA Rock Digest (www.sarockdigest.com)

Essential listening: "Astra" (Freshcd145) and "Galactic Vibes" (Freshcd126) - available at CD Wherehouse or at www.freshmusic.co.za

Rock of Ages's recommendations


John Mayer Trio


John Mayer Trio


Forget what you heard or know about John Mayer, his new album "Try! - Live in Concert" is a quantum leap away from his dabbling in the pop charts - backed by uber bassist Pino Palladino and el supremo drummer Steve Jordan he blazes through a scorching set of blues rock originals and a handful of covers. Mayer's fretwork is up there with the likes of Joe Bonamassa and Eric Gales and like them his chosen guitar 'poison' is the Fender Stratocaster. Highlights include his soulful redition of Jimi's "Wait until tomorrow", "Another kind of green" and "Who did you think I was?". If guitar driven rock blues is your thang ... look no further.(available on Columbia import via SonyBMG).

Jeff Beck


Jeff Beck Live


Jimi is jammin' up high; Eric's mellowed; Jimmy P seems to rest on the Led Zep laurels and Peter Green lost his way so it's left to the last of the originals to keep the rock fires burning and god does he burn bright! There are guitarists and then there is Jeff Beck, he is the 'Guv'nor' .... the guitarist that most players measure themselves against. On "Jeff Beck Live" he absolutely wipes the floor with any competition as he howls, whispers, glides, rips and soars through a set recorded live at New York's BB King's Blues Club & Grill.

Included in this 16 song album are gems from his jazz fusion past like "Goodbye Pork Pie", "Scatterbrain" and "Freeway Jam"; blues workouts like "My thing" and the incredible "Brush with the blues" (has to be heard to be believed), some newer material like "Nadia" and "Roy's toys"(dedicated to the late Roy Buchanan) as well as an instrumental version of his mid 80's surprise hit "People get ready".

Jeff Beck Live is only available from www.jeffbeckbootlegs.com .... don't worry this is legit!

Competitions


Here are the five winners of the David Gilmour competition: Kevin du Plessis (Menlo Park) / Louis Fourie (Gezina) / Nick Matzukis (Sunninghill) / Mahomed Ebrahim (Durban) / Anita van Wyk (Bellville) - Congratulations you have each won a copy of the new David Gilmour album "On an island" as well as a double dvd set of "The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story", courtesy of those fine folks at SonyBMG.

Watch out for the Pink Floyd dvd "Pulse" competition starting in July with dvd giveaways ... more info to follow.


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Email: click here
Snail mail:
PO Box 782022, Sandton 2146
Studio phone: 089-1102003
Richard Filmer @ CDW

Disclaimer:
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.

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News from the
World of Rock
Keef out of his tree
ROLLING STONES guitarist Keith Richards was taken to hospital in New Zealand after injuring himself while on holiday in Fiji. A band spokeswoman said Richards had suffered a "mild concussion" and was taken to hospital as a precaution. He was released after treatment.

Media reports in Australia and New Zealand said Richards had hurt his head when he fell out of a palm tree after cavorting with fellow Stoner Ron Wood .... no comment on why they were in a tree.

Back to the bone
George Thorogood and his Delaware Destroyers are back in action with The Hard Stuff, an all-new studio album to be released May 30 on Eagle Records, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Eagle Rock Entertainment.

The quintessential American blues-rock guitarist, over the course of 29 years and 19 albums, has cemented his rep both on the stage and in the studio with such masterpieces as "Bad To The Bone," "I Drink Alone," "Get A Haircut," "One Bourbon One Scotch & One Beer" and many others. On The Hard Stuff, he's right back in his comfort zone, covering John Lee Hooker's "Huckle Up Baby" and Fats Domino's "Hello Josephine," as well as penning a number of originals, including the title track and "Any Town USA."

Only in America
The new look Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) seems to be giving the world an unusual moral code.... It appears that the DMCA will have a maximum sentence of ten years inside for the crime of software and music piracy. It will also give the FBI the powers to wiretap suspected pirates.... assaulting a police officer will get you five years, downloading child porn will get you seven years, assaulting without a weapon will get you ten years and aggravated assault six years.

So in other words if you copy a Disney CD and sell it you will be in the same league as a paedophile who is distributing pictures of sexual attacks on children. [the Feds can't control the border but they want to wiretap DVD and CD pirates?

Listen to the new Neil Young album online Neil's new album "Living with war" is an absolute corker and a welcome return to his rock roots after the laid back (but amazing) "Prairie Wind". He has put the whole album up for his fans to listen to (but not download) here »»»

Live Gigs
Jack Hammer
13th May Back to Basix, Westdene, Joburg
19th May Steak & Ale, Centurion

Delta Blue
8th May Tanz Café, Bryanston

Robin Auld
13th May Tanz Café, Bryanston

Arno Carstens
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

Sssssssh
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

Vinyl Junkies
I'm often asked by Rock of Ages listeners where they can find classic rock vinyl as well as South African rock and jazz records? Well there are two great stores in Cape Town who specialise in the above: Vibes Vinyl @ Stadium on Main, Claremont and Mabu Vinyl in Kloof Street ... check them out, they know their stuff!
"Benjy says..." Archive

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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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