Looking at the music of Dutch rock band Focus, started in the late sixties by Thijs Van Leer (b /31/03/48) with Jan Akkerman (b 24/12/46). Van Leer still performs and records under the name today (official site here). Akkerman's site here.




Track by track 69

Archive number: 69
Title: Wingless
Main Album: Focus Con Proby
Track number: 1
Genre: Rock Vocal
Studio: EMI Studios, Hilversum, The Netherlands
Length: 5' 32”
Composer: Thijs Van Leer, Roselie Van Leer
Musicians: P J Proby – Vocals; Eef Albers - Electric guitars; Thijs Van Leer – Hammond organ, Electric piano; Bert Ruiter – Bass; Steve Smith - Drums
Producer: Yde de Jong
Engineer: Jan Van Vrijaldenhoven/Mike Stavron
Label: EMI
Date of recording/release: Recorded 1977 Released 1978 LP – 1978 CD – 1998
Alternative versions: None
Notes: This vocal track is bookended by a short reverbed instrumental introduction (00:00-00:37) quite dreamy and a heavier, wilder and longer reverbed instrumental conclusion (03:08-05:32) that eventually fades. There is also a reverbed guitar-led instrumental break at 01:33-02:08 between the second and third verses. The words are as follows
I'm a bird but I am wingless
On a treetop way up high
Springtime's coming green and reckless
How I long and long to fly

But my love I get so restless
Thinking of you all the time
While my heart moves free I'm solid
Wish that I could move around

While my heart was fixed forever
Fixed in love without the fear
That one day I'll be without you
Is it true, and is it near?

Sunlight starlight love your laughter
And the love of gentle hearts
And beyond the face of the loved one
There you'll find the face of God
The words are sung well in a yearning rock ballad style but are slightly overwhelmed by the band until the final line, where everything slows and dies down before taking off again for the final section.
A note on P J Proby (from Wikipedia)
Born James Marcus Smith, November 6, 1938, Houston, Texas, this singer, songwriter and actor is noted for theatrical portrayals of Presley and Orbison and interpretations of old standards in the vein of Nat king Cole or Tony Bennett. His stage name was suggested by friend and songwriter Sharon Sheeley who remembered an old boyfriend with the name.
His father was VP of a big bank. He was educated at various military academies and later moved to California to be a movie actor. As Jett Powers he had minor roles and 2 singles on an independent label went unnoticed. In 1962 he began writing and recording demos for artists such as Elvis and Johnny Cash.
Sheeley took him to audition at Liberty Records. He soon created his fashion image of a pony-tail tied back with a ribbon, swashbuckling pirate shirts and buckled shoes. In addition, he wore skin-tight suits of velvet in different colours. London based from 1964 he began to have hits but a royalty dispute broke his run of UK successes.
His career was also affected by controversy. His trousers split during a concert. Women in the audience went wild. Somehow, they split again at the next venue. Critics, and the audience, were divided on whether it was a gimmick or eccentricism. During a 1967 concert they split again and he was dropped from the rest of the tour.
Back in the US he had a hit but poor managerial advice led to him briefly declaring himself bankrupt. He took some rest then but in September '68 recorded Three Week Hero. Released in '69 The Yardbirds (later Led Zeppelin) were his backing band.
In 1971 he had a successful West End run as Casio in a rock musical version of Othello (Catch My Soul). He continued to perform mostly in cabarets and nightclubs, singing 1960s ballads and rhythm 'n' blues material. In 1977, he portrayed Elvis in Elvis - The Musical, which received rave reviews and awards. It was following this that he recorded with Focus, the result chiefly of manager Yde de Jong being a fan.
He then returned to singing in clubs. By 1990 he was suffering from alcoholism, living in Bolton but did produce an album Thanks. He enjoyed minor success with covers of Anarchy in the UK and other unexpected material but was neglected by the media. Following his return to the public eye, in 1991, he suffered a heart attack, curtailing activities until 1993, when he appeared in a Jack Good biomusical Good Rockin' Tonite as himself. In 1995 he was in a Roy Orbison tribute show Only the Lonely. By 1996 he was again doing the Elvis musical. In 1997, he toured with The Who, performing as "The Godfather" in the road production of Quadrophenia. Now into his seventies, he continues to tour. In 2007 he was accused of benefit fraud, something he strongly denies.

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