Sunday, July 4, 2021

Sunday morning music


Here's a treat for progressive rock fans - a band you've probably never heard of, but which was very successful in South Africa, and in terms of musical talent probably deserves to have been much better known internationally.  Sadly, due to many factors (particularly the turmoil over that country's apartheid policies, which led to the so-called "cultural boycott" of many South African musicians and venues), that didn't happen.

The McCullagh brothers, Mike and Tully (the latter only 12 at the time) formed their first musical group, the Blue Three, in 1965.  Four years later they became McCully Workshop, and despite several branches and variations have remained in business under that name since then.  They're still active in South Africa.  Their initial musical style was unquestionably progressive rock, and echoes of such greats in that field as Jethro Tull, early Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa and others are evident in their work.  They went on to develop their own style as time passed.  "Eclectic" describes it well!

I've chosen several of their earlier hits as examples of their work.  "Why Can't It Rain?" was their first big hit, off their first album, "Inc."

Here's "Sweet Fields of Green" from their second album, "Genesis".

From their 1975 album "Ages", here's "Guinevere".

From the same album, here's a heavily jazz- and blues-influenced number, "Blues in C Minor", with vocal effects similar to the legendary Louis Armstrong.

Perhaps their biggest hit was 1977's "The Buccaneer".  It was a particular favorite among the Special Forces troops of South Africa's 4 Reconnaissance Regiment, who used to regale Simonstown bars with it when they went to that town to train at the Navy's Diving School.  Regrettably, their musical talent did not always match their military (and imbibing) skills... but a good time was still had by all.

Finally, just to prove they're still going strong, here's a 2014 live performance of "Chinese Junkman".

You can read all about the band on their Web site, and find a lot of their music on YouTube.  I've always thought it a great pity that they never got the international exposure they needed to make it to the big time.  Given greater opportunities to expand their musical horizons, who knows how big they might have become?


1 comment:

A9racer said...

Mr. Grant,
I thank you for turning me on to McCully Workshop. The first song made me think Greg Lake had joined early Yardbirds.
I am now going to do a deep dive into their discography. Hat tip to you, good sir.