Hocus Pocus – Focus – 1973

August 5, 2015

Focus Hocus Pocus single cover

Remember the days of prog. rock with bands like Yes, Pink Floyd, Genesis and Rush? Well, stuck in the middle there somewhere was Dutch band, Focus, who had a 1973 hit with Hocus Pocus.

Focus 2focus fax

  • Focus formed in The Netherlands in 1969.
  • Founding member Thijs van Leer was a classically trained organist and flautist.
  • With four breaks and reunions along the way, Focus continues to tour today.
  • Focus 3Past line ups have included, guitarist Jan Akkerman (a founding member) and American singer, PJ Proby.

hocus pocus fax

  • Hocus Pocus was recorded in 1971, released on the band Focus’s second album, Focus II (aka Moving Waves), in 1972 and hit the charts in 1973.
  • Hocus Pocus was written by Focus guitarist Jan Akkerman and flautist-keyboardist Thijs van Leer.
  • Focus 1Hocus Pocus peaked at #9 on the US singles charts and #20 on the UK singles charts. In 2010 it was featured in a Nike ad shown during the FIFA World Cup causing it to again enter the UK charts where it peaked at #57.
  • The original recording of Hocus Pocus was slower than the faster radio version which was, in turn, slower than the live version.
  • The song is often heard at sporting events, was featured in the 2014 remake of the movie Robocop, and has featured in television shows, Top Gear and My Name is Earl.
  • Hocus Pocus lyrics.

hocus pocus – focus – 1973

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Barracuda – Heart – 1977

March 23, 2015

Heart-Barracuda-1977-Single CoverIt’s hard to believe this week’s song is almost 40 years old!  Sounding as good today as it did in 1977, Heart’s hit, Barracuda.

Heart 1heart fax

  • From the US, Heart’s initial success was in Canada – it took some time before their compatriots caught the Heart bug.
  • Founded in 1974 and still performing today, the band has gone through a number of line-ups but at the heart (‘cuse the pun) of each morph has been the Wilson sisters, Ann as lead singer and Nancy on guitar.
  • Heart has sold over 35 million records worldwide, 22.5 million of those in the US. They have had Top 10 albums on the US charts in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2010s.
  • Heart 2Heart ranked #57 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.
  • They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

barracuda fax

  • Barracuda was recorded by Heart in 1977 for their second album, Little Queen.
  • Barracuda was Heart’s second Top 20 US single – it peaked at #11.
  • In 2009, VH1 named Barracuda the 34th best hard rock song of all time.
  • Heart 3The meaning of Barracuda has been often written about; Ann Wilson says it tells of Heart’s anger towards a publicity stunt instigated by Mushroom Records.  They created a rumour that Ann and her sister, Nancy, were involved in an incestuous affair. The song focuses on Ann’s anger when a man came up to her after a concert and asked how her lover was. It took Ann a while to realise he was talking about her sister.  Ann went back to her hotel room to write the original lyrics of the song.
  • Barracuda was covered by Fergie for the soundtrack Shrek the Third (2007) and is on her album The Dutchess.  It was also covered by Alice in Chains and Gretchen Wilson in 2007, and appeared in the television show, Glee, sung byLea Michele and Adam Lambert.
  • Barracuda lyrics.

barracuda – heart – 1977

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Rocky Mountain Way – Joe Walsh – 1973

December 12, 2013

TJoe Walsh coverhe first hit from ace guitar man Joe Walsh wasn’t really a solo hit at all – 1973’s Rocky Mountain Way featured is band, Barnstorm.

joe walsh fax

  • Joe slots in at #54 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of all Time.
  • He was born, Joe Fidler and as a teenager began a hobby that has remained all his life – ham radio.
  • In 1968, Joe joined the James Gang as their lead guitarist.
  • In 1971, he moved on to form a band named Barnstorm. They released one album and produced another, but it was released under Joe’s name only. The album was called, The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get, and featured the single, Rocky Mountain Way.
  • Barnstorm disbanded in 1974 and Joe went solo before joining The Eagles in December 1975. Since then he has played with the band (when they reunite!) while pursuing a simultaneous solo career.
  • In 1980, Joe ran for President of the United States as a mock campaign. He promised to make Life’s Been Good the new national anthem and ran with the slogan of “Free Gas For Everyone.” 12 years later he ran for Vice-President with Rev. Goat Carson under the slogan “We Want Our Money Back!”
  • Joe has either played on or produced albums by artists too numerous to mention, but including: Dan Fogelberg, Ringo Starr, Don Henley, John Entwistle, America, REO Speedwagon, Andy Gibb, Wilson Phillips, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Steve Winwood.
  • Joe’s something of a movie star too. He makes an appearance in The Blues Brothers and RoboCop,

the new zealand connection

In October 2004, Joe visited New Zealand to give a number of public talks on the dangers of substance abuse. He said the visit was to say thank you those who took him to Otatara Pa when, in 1989, he toured the country with local reggae band Herbs. He was, at the time, under heavy alcohol and cocaine addictions. He cites this visit as being the beginning of a long journey back to health.

While at Otatara Pa during that 2004 visit, Joe said,

This is a special place, and it is very special to me. It was here on a visit many years ago, up on the hills, that I had a moment of clarity. I don’t understand it, but I reconnected with my soul, and I remembered who I used to be. I admitted I had problems and I had to do something about it. It was the beginning of my recovery from my addiction to alcohol and drugs, and when I got back to America it gave me the courage to seek help.

Joe Walsh 2rocky mountain way fax

  • Rocky Mountain Way was co-written by Joe Walsh and released in 1973. It was from the album The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get and peaked at #23 on the US singles charts.
  • In 2012, when Howard Stern asked Joe how the song lyrics came about, he said,

I’m living in Colorado and I’m mowing the lawn. I look up and there’s the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and there’s snow on them in the summer. And it knocked me back because it was just beautiful. And I thought, well I have committed. I’m already in Colorado and it’s too late to regret the James Gang. The Rocky Mountain Way is better than the way I had. Because the music was better. I got the words, bam! I got all of the words all at once and ran into the house to write the words down. The lawn mower kept going over into the neighbour’s yard and ate the garden. It was an expensive song to write!

  • Joe has often performed the song live including: when on tour with The Eagles, as a member of Australian band The Party Boys (featuring legendary down-under guitarist Kevin Borich), and with Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band (an 8-minute version that kicked off with a slide guitar arrangement of Amazing Grace).
  • Covers have included versions by: Stephen Stills and Ozzy Osborne.
  • Rocky Mountain Way lyrics.

rocky mountain way – joe walsh – 1973 – video

rocky mountain way – joe walsh LIVE – 2004 Crossroads Guitar Festival – video

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Be Mine Tonight – Th’ Dudes – 1979

November 21, 2013

The Dudes coverBe Mine Tonight, the debut single by Kiwi band, Th’ Dudes, is a classic down my end of the world.

The Dudes Bth’ time is right

It seems fitting to feature a song by Th’ Dudes this week seeing as how band member Dave Dobbyn was recently welcomed into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame.

For those unaware of the New Zealand music scene, Dave Dobbyn is pop-royalty in these parts. He’s our Bob Dylan; a magnificent musical poet.

th’ dudes fax

  • Th’ Dudes began life at Sacred Heart College in Auckland, New Zealand – the same school Neil and Tim Finn (Crowded House) attended.
  • The band’s name was taken from a NME comic strip, The Lone Groover.
  • Originally a covers band, Th’ Dudes slowly increased their repertoire of originals and, in 1979, were named New Zealand Band of the Year.
  • The band claimed to be influenced by UK punk and new wave artists bands such as Iggy Pop, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Roxy Music, The Stranglers and The Clash.
  • The band eventually disbanded in mid 1980.

bliss

Another of the band’s songs, Bliss, released in 1980, is regarded as one of the great Kiwi party songs (see video below).

what about dave?

Dave Dobbyn went on to form his own band, DD Smash  (pretty hot from 1980 – 1986). In 1986, he went solo and has become one of our musical statesmen.

be mine tonight fax

  • Be Mine Tonight was Th’ Dudes debut single from their first album Right First Time. It is a classic song yet peaked at only #36 on the New Zealand single charts.
  • Be Mine Tonight won Single of the Year at the 1979 New Zealand Music Awards.
  • It was voted #27 on the list of best New Zealand Songs of the 20th Century.
  • Be Mine Tonight lyrics.

be mine tonight – th’ dudes – 1979 – video

bliss – th’ dudes – 1979 – video

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American Woman – The Guess Who – 1970

August 29, 2013

The Guess Who - American Woman - 1970Not about women at all! Back in 1970 when The Guess Who released their hit, American Woman, they copped a fair bit of criticism about it being more than a little chauvinistic – but it’s not about women from America at all…

The Guess who 1discovering live music

The very first live album I purchased was back in 1972 – Live at the Paramont by The Guess Who. I reckon I must have almost worn that piece of vinyl out. It was a great album with the Burton Cummings piano-based, Albert Flasher, and the harmonica of Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon, but the highlight was the B-side’s 16+ minute version of American Woman.

from canada with love

The Guess Who began as The Reflections and evolved to The Guess Who? dropping the “?” in 1968. They had a number of hit records but none came close to the success of American Woman.

As a band they suffered a fair amount of inner turmoil and personnel changes. Through it all, the driving forces in the band were the talents of Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman. Even this relationship was stretched to breaking point, however, when Randy converted to Mormonism back in the early 70s sometime.

Eventually, Randy left to form Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

The band split in 1975, reunited in 1977, and is still touring today.

double success for randy

The Guess Who was inducted into The Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1987. Bachman-Turner Overdrive received the same honour in 2003.

guess who trivia

The Guess who were asked by Richard Nixon to play at the Whitehouse. Mrs Nixon contacted the band to ask that they don’t play American Woman because of the anti-American lyrics.

american woman fax

  • American Woman was recorded on August 13, 1969 and released in January 1970 on the album, American Woman.
  • American Woman was written by The Guess Who band members Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings, Garry Peterson and Jim Kale.
  • American Woman began as a live jam at a concert. The band were improvising, Burton made up some lyrics, a kid recorded it, everyone liked it… the band asked the kid for the tape and hit the studio to record the song, virtually exactly as it was improvised a few days before.
  • American Woman hit #1 on the US singles chart.
  • Here’s what co-writer Jim Kale had to say about American Woman;

The popular misconception was that it was a chauvinistic tune, which was anything but the case. The fact was, we came from a very strait-laced, conservative, laid-back country, and all of a sudden, there we were in Chicago, Detroit, New York – all these horrendously large places with their big city problems. After that one particularly grinding tour, it was just a real treat to go home and see the girls we had grown up with. Also, the war was going on, and that was terribly unpopular. We didn’t have a draft system in Canada, and we were grateful for that. A lot of people called it anti-American, but it wasn’t really. We weren’t anti-anything. John Lennon once said that the meanings of all songs come after they are recorded. Someone else has to interpret them.

  • American Woman has been covered by, Led Zeppelin, and Lenny Krazitz. Lenny covered it for the movie, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. While it only made it to #49 on the singles chart, it did win a Grammy – Best Male Rock Performance – in 2000.
  • American Woman lyrics.

american woman – the guess who – 1970 – full version video

american woman – the guess who – 1970 – live video

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It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) – AC/DC – 1975

July 11, 2013

AC-DC It's a Long Way to the Top Single CoverIt’s a long way to the top if you want to rock ‘n’ roll, but these boys made it. Back in 1975 they were still little known Aussie rockers – but they were on their way.

ac/dc on the radio

This week a local station played ten songs in a row from their pick of the top ten rock bands of the seventies. Here’s who they chose:

1. Led Zeppelin

2. Queen

3. Pink Floyd

4. Aerosmith

5. Black Sabbath

6. The Who

7. AC/DC

8. The Rolling Stones

9. Deep Purple

10. Uriah Heep

As I listened to the songs I realised there was only one band who hadn’t featured on seventiesmusic – AC/DC.

ACDC 3beginnings

The history of AC/DC is well chronicled. Formed in Australia by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young—the boys were inspired by their brother George who was a member of iconic Aussie band, The Easybeats.

When lead singer Bon Scott died in 1980 (meaning it’s his voice we hear on this week’s song), the band thought seriously about quitting. It was Bon’s parents who urged them to keep going saying it was what Bon would have wanted.

The rest is history, with Bon’s replacement, Brian Johnson, AC/DC have gone on to become one of the highest-grossing bands of all time.

accolades

ACDC 2As of 2010, AC/DC had sold more than 200 million albums worldwide. That included 71 million albums in the United States.

Back in Black, having sold 50 million units worldwide, is the second-highest-selling album by any artist and the highest-selling album by any band—Michael Jackson’s Thriller claims the #1 spot.

AC/DC rank fourth on VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock, and seventh on MTV’s list of the Greatest Heavy Metal Bands of All Time.

In 2004, AC/DC were listed at #72 on the Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

it’s a long way to the top (if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll) fax

  • It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) is the first track from AC/DC’s album T.N.T.
  • The song was written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young and Bon Scott and was released in December 1975.
  • It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) is known for its use of bagpipes—perhaps the first heavy rock song to use them. The idea to use bagpipes came from George Young. He heard Bon was in a pipe band and encouraged him. What he didn’t know was that Bon was a drummer and had never played the pipes. He rose to the challenge, however, and the rest, as they say, is history.
  • It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) also appears on the international version of the album High Voltage.
  • Artists to cover the song include: Jack Black (in the movie, School of Rock), Pat Boone, Dropkick Murphys, John Farnham, Motörhead, Hanson, The Wiggles, and Lucinda Williams
  • Metallica play the song over the PA at every concert just before they perform.
  • It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) was Bon’s signature song and so, out of respect for him, AC/DC no longer performs it.
  • It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) lyrics.

it’s a long way to the top (if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll) – ac/dc – 1975 – video

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She’s a Mod – Ray Columbus and the Invaders – 1964

July 4, 2013

ray-columbus-and-the-invaders-shes-a-mod-1964She’s a Mod, originally recorded by English band, The Senators (featuring the drumming skills of John Bonham), was covered by New Zealand band Ray Columbus and the Invaders in 1964. It went on to become the first New Zealand song to become an international #1 hit.

why are we in the 60s?

Yes, I know this is a seventies music blog, but this week thenews down my end of the world is that one of our rock ‘n’ roll icons, Ray Columbus, is knocking on Heaven’s door, having been diagnosed with a terminal illness some time ago. It seemed fitting to pay some sort of tribute to him.

ray 1ray the man

Ray has been a popular figure in the Kiwi music industry ever since rock ‘n’ roll first hit these shores. He’s received numerous awards throughout his career, and toured in concert with Roy Orbison, The Rolling Stones, Tom Jones, Herman’s Hermits, The Searchers, Del Shannon, Shirley Bassey, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Gene McDaniel’s, Ben E King, The Hollies, Robin Gibb, The Turtles, Eric Burdon and the Animals.

In 2002, he toured with the sell-out Long Way To The Top – the history of Australian Rock N Roll – show, which saw him perform to over 220,000 people in 20 arena concerts throughout Australia.. He later went into music management.

Ray Columbus and the Invaders played together for only two years, from 1964 to 1966. In that time they became the first New Zealand band to record an international #1 record with She’s a Mod topped the Australian charts.

the inevitable

It’s seems inevitable that Ray will be leaving us soon, and when he does, all New Zealand fans will be saddened – he truly is, one of our music greats.

she’s a mod fax

She’s a Mod was originally recorded by UK band, The Senators before being covered by Ray Columbus and the Invaders.

It was the first song by a Kiwi band to hit #1 internationally.

She’s a Mod lyrics.

she’s a mod – ray columbus and the invaders – 1964


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