last updated: 11 July 2017 (approximate reading time: 2 minutes; 389 words)

In Pollute the Poor Boniface plays Sylvia, a tune from 1972 by the Dutch prog rock band Focus. You’ll have to read the book to find the significance of the track and why Boniface chooses to play it.

The track is an instrumental with a strong, quite joyful melody, but there’s a mournful undercurrent. It’s one of those tunes that “speaks” without using words—and, of course, since there are no words, you can imprint your own interpretation.

If you don’t know the track, let me rectify that for you right now—and rectify it four times.

At this stage, I should note that the 1970s hair carries a public health warning, for which I apologize.

Original Studio Version

Here’s the original version. As best I can tell, the audio is the original studio performance. The video footage was synced to the music—you’re not actually seeing a live performance.

This version starts directly with those power chords that feature in Pollute the Poor.

Alternate Live Version

Personally I prefer this alternate version. This is a live (as in live in the studio) performance. It’s a beat or two faster and doesn’t start with those power chords.

Acoustic Variant

After two 1970s versions, let’s bring things up to date (or at least closer to up to date) with an acoustic version. Start listening from around 1:13.

This version features Jan Akkerman. He was the original guitarist with the band and as you can see, since the 1970s the hair has been replaced with a white cap. The playing on this version is great, but unfortunately some of the sonic fidelity is lost in this recording.

To my mind this acoustic arrangement offers a very different perspective to the melody bringing out the mournful undercurrent that is less obvious in electric renditions. With this acoustic version there’s a lot more space and the melody is allowed to breathe more freely.

If you keep running the video, you’ll see Akkerman perform with his (electric) band. Initially, there’s a fairly loose (and kinda dull) jam, but around 4:16 the band move to Sylvia, giving a fourth take on the track.

Montbretia is pretty dismissive about other tracks by Focus including what she calls “the yodeling song” (its actual name is Hocus Pocus). Then again, Montbretia is pretty dismissive about Boniface’s entire taste in music. 

Filed under

Category: music
People: Jan Akkerman   Boniface  
Tags: Focus   Sylvia   Pollute the Poor