Reviews roundup – Focus vs. Unknown Hero vs. Arthur Miles
The Focus Family Album
In and out of Focus Records
An odd cove this one. Most musical family albums tend to range far and wide through a bands history but this one focuses on the recent days of the Dutch progsters.
As such it’s a bit hit and miss. The Focus material is pretty good as they’ve been on a decent run of form lately but no-one (and I mean no-one) ever needs to hear anything from Pierre Van Der Lindens “Drum Poetry” album. The title alone should be enough to have you running for cover. The other solo stuff is so-so. Thijs Van Leer fiddles with his flute while Menno Gootjes shows us that he can play an acoustic guitar very well.
If you have missed their recent work then there may be some value to this as the likes of ‘Song for Eva’, ‘The Fifth Man’ and ‘Fine Without You’ are delightful tunes. Fans of the band, of course, will have to buy it due to the plethora of unreleased material but casual punters would be better off heading back to 2012 and “Focus X” to get a fantastic flavour of where Focus are in the 21st century.
In My Head
Well now, this isn’t my usual cup of tea.
Turns out that all the songs have a place in a dystopian drama unfolding in the year 2125 on the Planet Altarz, where Lord Kraven and the Unknown Hero are moving toward a showdown. Years before, Lord Kraven abolished any practice or mention of music. But recently he has learned that a mysterious figure has been depositing strange music-generating devices around the city. A growing band of rebels are plotting ways to support his apparent mission: to give music back to the people. So far, so Mr Roboto.
Turns out the actual Unknown Hero is a music producer/graphic artist from San Francisco whose debut album this is. Now I’m no expert on the world of electronic dance / pop but I suspect this is some of the good stuff, especially on the very poppy tunes. So that’s ‘Keep Moving Me’, ‘Be Alright’ and ‘Monsters In My Head’. Elsewhere he takes a harder edge to his sound which I believe the kids may still be calling EDM.
He’s certainly very good at what he does and this certainly is a million times better than anything I heard the last time I accidentally turned Radio 1 on. Interesting, very interesting.
ARTHUR MILES & Ardy Blues Band
Mr Miles has certainly led a musical life.
He’s been a working musician for over 40 years going back to his days in Indianapolis before he headed to Los Angeles, where he had the advantage of a father who owned a club and an uncle called Wes Montgomery. Yes, that one.
He studied music at college and ended up touring the world with the likes of Edwin Starr, Josè Feliciano, Gloria Gaynor, Big Joe Turner, Johnny Otis and many more. Somehow he ended up in Italy performing with some well known Italian musicians including the only one we know over here, a certain Zucchero. You know, ‘Senza una Donna’, ‘Hey man’, all that stuff. Under his own name though he’s returned to the blues of late and this is his latest offering in the company of the Italian Ardy Blues Band.
And it’s very enjoyable as they work through a set of original tunes like ‘White Port Blues’, ‘Born To Be A Millionaire’ and ‘She’s Back’. The band are tight, he’s in fine voice and there is no reason that any self respecting blues fan shouldn’t get a kick out of this.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton