Song of the day: Focus – "Hocus Pocus"

January 14, 2012

Behold a band displaying complete mastery of their craft (especially guitarist Jan Akkerman, who is simply astonishing):

Focus – “Hocus Pocus (1971)

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This video never fails to make my jaw drop:

This one’s not too shabby either:

And here’s the version they recorded for the American market:

Focus – “Hocus Pocus (U.S. single version) (1973)

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Frank’s Faves on Fridays

July 9, 2010

Freddie And The Dreamers – “Do The Freddie” (1965)

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Excellent. I was bobbing my head and humming along in no time. More of this, please.

(Update: Oh, man. I just watched the video for “Do The Freddie”. It’s even more excellent.)

Gruppo Sportivo – “Mission A Paris” (1977)

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Was this a joke song? Or post-ironic? Post-post-ironic? I know nothing about either the band or the song, so I don’t know if their tongues are: a) in their cheeks; b) poking out at the audience; or c) where they usually have their tongues. The song started with a rip-off of B. Bumble And The Stingers‘ “Nut Rocker“. Then the band decided to put a variety of things in it (girl group vocals, Farfisa organ, 60’s-sounding guitar solos, kazoos, wha-wha Shaft-styled guitar, male background vocals spoken sotto voce etc) which leads me to think that they were a cabaret act. (“Enjoy your meal, ladies and gentlemen. And now, tonight’s entertainment: Gruppo Sportivo!”) I’ve just searched for some information on Gruppo Sportivo and have found out that they’re a Dutch band who did indeed have their tongues firmly in their cheeks.

Boring sidenote:

My favourite Dutch band is Focus. Here’s why:

Focus – “Hocus Pocus (1971)
(Demented live performance)

Focus – “Sylvia (1973)

But back to your suggestions:

Honey Cone – “While You’re Out Looking For Sugar” (1969)

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This song reminded me a lot of Freda Payne‘s “Band Of Gold“, one of my all-time favourite soul songs. I have no idea who Honey Cone is or was, but that bass player sure sounds a lot like James Jamerson. However, whether or not it is Mr Motown himself, that bass is nowhere near loud enough in the mix for my liking. But the song itself is OK. It’s Soul, it’s nice, it’s pleasant, it’s… “Now that you’re gone, all that’s left is a band of gold…” Sorry about that. Now, how did “While You’re Out Looking For Sugar” go again?

The Beat – “Different Kind Of Girl (1979)

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Not too bad. I wasn’t especially keen on the beep-beep-beep-beep synthesizer in the verses, but that was only a minor annoyance. When the song started I zoomed in on the sound of bass. It sounds like the bass player is either hitting the strings too hard, or the bass is tuned down more than necessary (which leads to looser strings), or the action’s too low (i.e., the strings are very close to the neck of the bass), because that click-y sound in the bass is the sound of the strings hitting the pickups. But putting aside the bass oddity* for one moment, the song’s catchy enough for a skinny-tie song. That’s a sloppy guitar solo (there’s some unsure playing at 1:47, and the soloist hits the strings too hard just after that which makes the repeated note go sharp). I think I’m entering ultra-picky territory here, criticising three seconds of a guitar solo, so I’ll back up a bit and just say: “Yeah, it’s an OK skinny-tie song. I don’t mind it.” By the way, the tune that starts the chorus (“Does what she wants to do, and says what she wants to say”) sounds very familiar to me, but I can’t quite place it. It reminds me of something, but I don’t know what. (The tune shares notes with the theme music from season 3 of Lost In Space [at the 12-second mark here], but that’s not what it reminds me of.)

Bonus instrumental:

Lawrence Welk – “Calcutta” (1961)

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Wunnerfull, wunnerfull, wunnerfull. You’ve hit me yet again in a soft spot. (Easy listening. Oh, baby…) I was humming that accordion tune, clapping those hand claps, marvelling at the harpsichord, singing “la-la-la-la” along with the background singers – and loving all of it. Easy listening!

Yours craving more,

Peter.

(*No puns please. And whatever you do, don’t mention David Bowie.)