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.

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20080531

Track by track 49

Archive number: 49
Title: Crackers
Main Album: Ship of Memories
Track number: 8
Genre: Jazz Funk Instrumental
Studio: Decca Studios, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California (later Studio 55)
Length: 2' 38”
Composer: Jan Akkerman
Musicians: Jan Akkerman – Electric and acoustic guitars; Thijs Van Leer – Flute; Bert Ruiter – Bass; David Kemper – Drums
Producer: Focus
Engineer: Eric Prestidge?
Label: LP – EMI, Harvest, Sire CD – EMI-Bovema, IRS, Red Bullet, JVC
Date of recording/release: 1975. Not released until 1977 (LP). CD – 1988, 1993, 2001, 2006
Alternative version: Other longer fluteless versions appear on Akkerman's self-titled 1977 solo album and his live album of the following year. He also brought it out as a single.
Notes: This jazz funk piece by Akkerman features first his acoustic and electric guitars (with some pedal effect employed) then Van Leer's flute leading the band (00:00-00:30; 00:31-00:45). This pattern is repeated (00:46-01:13; 01:14-01:29). The electric guitar then leads off on a riff (01:20-01:45) before returning to the original funky style with acoustic and electric guitars (01:46-02:12). A final all electric coda, which then fades, brings the piece to a close (02:13-02:38).
A note on Funk (from Wikipedia)
Funk is an American music style that originated in the mid- to late-1960s when African American musicians blended soul, jazz and R&B into arhythmic, danceable new form of music. Funk de-emphasises melody and harmony and brings a strong rhythmic groove of electric bass and drums to the foreground. Unlike R&B and soul, which have many chord changes, funk songs are often based on an extended vamp on a single chord. Like much African inspired music, funk typically consists of a complex groove with rhythm instruments such as electric guitar, bass, Hammond organ and drums playing interlocking rhythms. Funk bands also usually have a horn section, which plays rhythmic "hits". In funk bands, guitarists typically play in a percussive style, often using the wah-wah sound effect and muting the notes in their riffs to create a percussive sound. Influential funk performers include James Brown, George Clinton, Curtis Mayfield, etc. The 1970s was probably the era of highest mainstream visibility for funk music. Notable 1970s funk bands include Earth Wind and Fire, The Commodores and Kool and the Gang, though many of these most famous bands in the genre also played disco and soul extensively. Funk music was a major influence on the development of 1970s disco. In the 1970s, jazz music drew upon funk to create a new subgenre of jazz-funk, which can be heard in 1970s recordings by Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock.

20080530

Track by track 48b


Archive number: 48b
Title: Avondrood
Main Album: Zing je moerstaal (a compilation). It also appeared with House of the King as a single in 1976.
Track number: 10 (of 12)
Genre: Progressive Rock Vocal
Studio: Decca Studios, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California (later Studio 55)
Length: 5' 48"
Composer: Thijs Van Leer, Jules Deelder
Musicians: Jan Akkerman - Electric guitars, Vocals; Thijs Van Leer – Vocals, Bass Moog, Hammond organ, Mellotrons, Piano, Electric Piano, Wind machine; David Kemper - Drums
Producer: Focus
Engineer: Mike Butcher or Eric Prestidge?
Label: LP – EMI, Harvest, Sire CD – EMI-Bovema, IRS, Red Bullet, JVC
Date of recording/release: 1975. Released 1976 (LP)
Alternative version: The instrumental version (Red sky at night [48a])
Notes: Avondrood consists of the backing track Red Sky at Night with chiefly Van Leer, but also Akkerman, singing over it. The words are

O avondrood
vlammengloed
O bloedbad in het westen

O late roos
lege doos
O stoffelijke resten

O medemensch
moederschoot
O onvervulde wensen

O bete broodskind
des doods
O verte
[O evening glow, glow of flames, O massacre in the west
O late rose, empty box, O mortal remains
O fellow-man, mother's lap, O unfulfilled desires
O bite of bread, child of death, O distance]
A note on Zing je moerstaal
Zing je moerstaal (Sing your mother tongue) was a compilation album. The cover shows a Dutch symbol, the frog with the wooden shoes, sitting in a singing mouth with a pen in his hand: the combination of music and poetry. In the word "moers" you can see the colours of the Dutch national flag: red, white and blue. The album was released in Holland by CPNB (Commissie voor de Collectieve Propaganda van het Nederlandse Boek - Commission for the Collective Propaganda of the Dutch Book) on the occasion of the Week of books 1976. On the album various Dutch pop musicians (Focus, Kayak, Maggie MacNeal, Fungus, Bots, Robert Long, etc) recorded works by different Dutch authors (Jules Deelder, Harry Mulisch, Theun de Winter, Wim de Vries, Bert Schierbeek, Simon Carmiggelt, etc). Focus knew of the works of the writer and poet Jules Deelder (from Rotterdam) before this recording was done. "Avondrood" was taken from his poetry collection De zwarte jager (The black hunter). It was chosen because of its regular structure and its positive sometimes unusual perspective.

Track by track 48a

Archive number: 48a
Title: Red sky at night
Main Album: Ship of Memories
Track number: 6
Genre: Progressive Rock Instrumental
Studio: Decca Studios, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California (later Studio 55)
Length: 5' 48"
Composer: Thijs Van Leer, Jan Akkerman, Jules Deelder
Musicians: Jan Akkerman - Electric guitars, Vocals; Thijs Van Leer – Vocals, Bass Moog, Hammond organ, Mellotrons, Piano, Electric Piano, Wind machine; David Kemper - Drums Producer: Focus Engineer: Mike Butcher or Eric Prestidge? Label: LP – EMI, Harvest, Sire CD – EMI-Bovema, IRS, Red Bullet, JVC
Date of recording/release: 1975 but not released in this form until 1977 (LP). CD – 1988,1993, 2001, 2006.
Alternative version: This is the instrumental backing track for the vocal track Avondrood [48b], presumably laid down like this before the vocals were added.
Notes: A wind machine is heard at the beginning and end (00:00-00:13/05:29-05:48) and in the background throughout. The band comes in together (at 00:14) led by Akkerman's guitar soaring over a slow march featuring Van Leer on pianos and bass Moog. There is a beautiful guitar-led bridge (01:53-02:14) before the earlier theme is repeated. The second time the flute leads taking up the bridge part and developing it (02:47-03:51). It is later interspersed with varied fretwork on guitar until a ritartando descends. Things then take off again, led by the piano-backed rising then soaring guitar (03:52-04:18). The section closes with a decisive cymbal crash (04:18) a note from the electric piano (04:19) and a wind machine-backed caesura (04:20-04:22) before the drums and a strong piano chord (04:23-04:26) announce the final section, where the organ is heard with the piano while the guitar (now more horn-like) still leads. A flute is heard at 04:52-04:57 as the piece slowly fades away (04:27-05:28).

Track by track 47

Archive number: 46
Title: Glider
Main Album: Ship of Memories
Track number: 5
Genre: Progressive Rock Instrumental
Studio: Decca Studios, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California (later Studio 55)
Length: 4' 34”
Composer: Jan Akkerman
Musicians: Jan Akkerman - Electric Sitar, Drum machine; Thijs Van Leer – Piano, Mellotron, Voice; Bert Ruiter – Bass; David Kemper – Drums
Producer: Focus
Engineer: Mike Butcher or Eric Prestidge?
Label: LP – EMI, Harvest, Sire CD – EMI-Bovema, IRS, Red Bullet, JVC
Alternative version: This is an earlier abandoned version of the track Mother Focus
Date of recording/release: 1975. Not released until 1977 (LP). CD – 1988, 1993, 2001, 2006.
Notes: Using the basic elements found in Sylvia and other tracks an attempt is made here (the title and sound would suggest) to create an atmosphere and even a particular scenario. First we have the early morning arrival at an airfield and preparations for a flight (00:00-00:51). No doubt the use of the drum machine was intended to create a mechanical atmosphere. Akkerman's sitar early on also reminds one of some sort of crankshaft or winch. There are shouts and sneezes from Van Leer too. A croaking sound from Van Leer announces lift off and eventually the glider is set free (01:22) to joyfully glide through the air. This is represented by Van Leer's voice at first but from 01:49 Akkerman's sitar takes up the representative role, including rolling falls (eg 02:15-02:19). At 02:49 Van Leer's voice comes in again. The sitar comes back in though and at 03:32-03:35 we have another rolling fall before the fade.
A note on the electric sitar (from Wikipedia)
A kind of electric guitar designed to mimic the sound of the traditional South Asian instrument. Depending on manufacturer and model, these instruments bear varying degrees of resemblance to the traditional sitar. Most, in fact, resemble the guitar in the style of the body adn headstock, though some have a body shaped to resemble that of a sitar. The instrument was developed in the late sixties when many western musical groups began to use sitar. The sitar is generally considered a difficult instrument to learn. By contrast, the electric sitar, with its standard guitar fretboard and tuning, is easy for a guitarist to play. In addition to the six playing strings, most electric sitars have sympathetic strings, typically located on the left side of the instrument (though some do not have these). These strings have their own pickups and are usually tuned with a harp wrench (a difficult process). A unique type of bridge, a "buzz bridge" (developed by session musician Vincent Bell), helps give the instrument its distinctive sound. Some electric sitars have drone strings in lieu of sympathetic strings. A few models, such as the Jerry Jones "Baby" sitar, lack both, while still retaining the distinctive buzz bridge. Vinnie Bell used the instrument on several songs, including "Green Tambourine" (the Lemon Pipers) and "Band of Gold" (Freda Payne). Because the tone quality and playing technique differ significantly from that of the sitar, it is not used by classical musicians, but typically by rock, jazz, fusion, progressive rock and other pop music groups. Eg Santana, Rory Gallagher, etc. Versions of electric sitar were also developed both in India and Pakistan. These are smaller, look like a sitar and are tuned the same way as the original classical sitar.
Akkerman bought a Coral electric sitar, manufactured by the Danelectro company, in the USA in 1973. (These first appeared in stores at the end of 1967. Danelectro ceased trading the following year. Consequently, prices of second-hand examples began to spiral).

Track by track 46

Archive number: 46
Title: I need a bathroom
Main Album: Mother Focus
Track number: 2
Genre: Rock Vocal
Studio: Morgan Studios, Brussels, Belgium
Length: 3' 03”
Composer: Bert Ruiter
Musicians: Jan Akkerman - Electric guitars; Thijs Van Leer – Electric piano, Mellotron; Bert Ruiter – Bass, Vocals; Colin Allen - Drums
Producer: Hubert Terheggen/Focus
Engineer: Eric Prestidge
Label: LP – Polydor, Atco, Philips, EMI
Date of recording/release: Recorded 1975, released October 1975. LP – 1975, 1977, CD - 1988
Notes: This appears to be a humourous parody of early disco - increasingly popular at the time. After a brief introduction featuring guitars, a voice, the piano and finally drums and bass (00:00-00:12) the vocal begins and takes up most of the time (00:13-02:55) with just a few very short breaks. The lyrics are (something like)

Oh I need the bathroom
Oh I need the bathroom
Oh keep on fighting
Oh I need the bathroom

And oh it's keeping on
Oh keep on fighting

Oh I need a bathroom
We're 'bout keeping on
Oh keep on fighting
And you keep me on

Then call again to Alaro
Maybe things will change, things tomorrow,
And call again - keeping on

Oh I need a bathroom
Oh I need a bathroom
Oh keep on fighting
Oh

And yet it seems tomorrow may be'll change things -
I don't know if you're right
Oh keep on rocking
Oh keep on fighting
Oh
The piece finally stumbles out rather than fading or ending with a flourish (02:56-03:03).
A note on Disco (from Wikipedia)
Most people agree that the first disco songs were released in 1973, though some suggest earlier examples. The first article about disco appeared in Rolling Stone in September 1973. In 1974 New York City's WPIX-FM premiered the first disco radio show. Musical influences include funk, soul, salsa and the Latin or Hispanic musics which influenced salsa. The disco sound has a soaring, often reverberated vocals over a steady four on the floor beat, a quaver or semi-quaver hi-hat pattern with an open hi-hat on the off-beat, and prominent syncopated electric bass line. Strings, horns, electric pianos and electric guitars create a lush background sound. Orchestral instruments such as the flute are often used for solo melodies and, unlike in rock, lead guitar is rarely used. Many non-disco artists recorded disco songs at the height of disco's popularity, especially after 1977 and films such as Saturday Night Fever. Early disco hits - Jackson 5/Dancing machine (1973), Hues' Corporation/Rock the boat, Barry White/You're the first the last, my everything, Labelle/Lady Marmalade, George McCrae/Rock your baby (1974). Significant too in this early disco period was Gloria Gaynor and Miami's KC and the Sunshine Band.

20080529

Track by track 45

Archive number: 46
Title: No hang ups
Main Album: Mother Focus
Track number: 10
Genre: Progressive Rock Instrumental
Studio: Morgan Studios, Brussels, Belgium
Length: 2' 54”
Composer: Paul Stoppelman
Musicians: Jan Akkerman - Electric guitars; Thijs Van Leer – Hammond organ; Bert Ruiter – Bass; Colin Allen - Drums
Producer: Focus
Engineer: Mike Butcher
Label: LP – Polydor, Atco CD - EMI, Red Bullet, JVC Japan, JVC Victor
Date of recording/release: Recorded 1975, released October 1975. LP – 1975, 1977, CD – 1988, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2006
Notes: This is a more traditional Focus track with a very live feel but a distinctive double beat drum sound. Organ and rhythm section begin (00:00-00:07) then the lead guitar comes in – quietly at first (00:08-00:00:39) before getting louder (00:40-01:09) and continuing to explore the theme, as the organ wows in the background. The earnestness grows to a climax (01:44-02:13) before returning to the quieter style of the beginning (02:14-02:54) and then fading – perhaps rather too early. The track was written by Paul Stoppelman, a friend of the band, and featured in the live act at the time Hamburger Concerto was being showcased.

Track by track 44f

Archive number: 44f
Title: Hamburger Concerto (Part 6 One for the road)
Main Album: Hamburger Concerto
Track number: 5c
Genre: Progressive Rock Instrumental (Symphonic)
Studio: Olympic Studios 'B', 117 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 9HL
Length: 1' 20” (20' 15” the whole)
Composer: Jan Akkerman
Musicians: Jan Akkerman – Electric Guitars (Fenders); Thijs Van Leer – Hammond organ, ARP Synthesiser, Voices; Bert Ruiter - Bass; Colin Allen – Drums
Producer: Mike Vernon
Engineer: Bob Hall
Label: Polydor, Atco, EMI, Red Bullet, JVC, JVC Victor
Date of recording/release: January/March 1974; April 1974. CD – 1998, 2001, 2001, 2002, 2006
Alternative version: The briefest snatch of the main melody here can be heard on the Ramses Shaffy album Sunset Sunkiss.
Notes: The piece now comes to its climax first with the synthesiser-led crescendo backed by piano and the rest of the band (18:58-19:31) then a triple repetition of the original 13-note Akkerman riff heard at the beginning (19:32-20:15). On the last hearing the mellotron choir is added for a triumphant ritartando ending that closes with cymbals, guitar and majestic piano chords in two groups of four.

Track by track 44e

Archive number: 44e
Title: Hamburger Concerto (Part 5 Well done)
Main Album: Hamburger Concerto
Track number: 5c
Genre: Progressive Rock Instrumental (Symphonic)
Studio: Olympic Studios 'B', 117 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 9HL
Length: 3' 26” (20' 15” the whole)
Composer: Thijs Van Leer, Joost Van Den Vondel, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Musicians: Jan Akkerman – Electric Guitars (Fenders); Thijs Van Leer – Hammond organ, ARP Synthesiser, Voices; Bert Ruiter - Bass; Colin Allen – Drums, Wood block
Producer: Mike Vernon
Engineer: Bob Hall
Label: Polydor, Atco, EMI, Red Bullet, JVC, JVC Victor
Date of recording/release: January/March 1974; April 1974. CD – 1998, 2001, 2001, 2002, 2006
Notes: Hands are clapped three times (15:31) before Van Leer sings two verses of the traditional Dutch Christmas Hymn O, Kerstnacht schoner dan de dagen. It is from Joost Van Den Vondel's 1623 drama De Gijsbrecht van Aemstel. The music appears to be by Cornelis Padbrué and Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck though Jan Van Biezen's 19th Century version is preferred today (15:33-16:50). The voice is multi-tracked (tenor and bass on verse 1 then tenor, bass and descant on the second verse) and is accompanied by organ. The words are

O, Kerstnacht schoner dan de dagen
Hoe kan Herodes het licht verdragen
Dat in Uw duisternisse blinkt
En wordt gevierd en aangebeden
Zijn hoogmoed luistert naar geen reden
Hoe schel die in zijn oren klinkt?

Hij tracht d' onnozelen te vernielen
Door doden van onnozele zielen
En wekt een stad en landgeschrei
In Bethlehem en op den akker
En maakt den geest van Rachel wakker
Die waren gaat door beemd en wei

[O, Christmas Eve more beautiful than the days
How can Herod bear the light
That blinks in your darkness
And is celebrated and worshipped
His pride listens to no reason
How noisily it sounds to his ears.

He tries to destroy the untaught ones
By killing untaught souls
And raises a crying in town and country
In Bethlehem and in the field
And awakes the spirit of Rachel
So that it starts haunting field and meadow.]

A drum roll then announces the whole band - guitars, organ, piano, mellotron choir, synthesisers (16:51-18:57). This builds and builds along with a beautiful melody to prepare for a mighty climax.
Note on Van Vondel (from Wikipedia)
A writer and playwright born 1587 in Cologne to Mennonite parents from Antwerp. In 1595 they fled to Utrecht then Amsterdam in the newly formed Dutch Republic (probably because of religious conviction). He married at 23 and had 4 children (2 survived). After his father's death (1608) he managed the family silk shop. Meantime, he began to learn Latin and got to know famous poets such as Visscher. Around 1641 he became a Catholic - a shock to most of his fellow countrymen - it is unclear why, though love for a Catholic lady may have played a role (his wife had died 1635). In Calvinist Holland Catholicism, Anabaptism and Arminianism were officially forbidden though there was no direct persecution. In his lifetime he became a strong advocate for religious tolerance and wrote many satires criticising the Calvinists. This, with his new faith, made him unpopular with them. He died (1679) a bitter man - though honoured by many fellow poets. Amsterdam's biggest park, the Vondelpark, bears his name. There is a statue in the northern part of the park. The Dutch five guilder banknote bore his portrait 1950-1990.

Track by track 44d

Archive number: 44d
Title: Hamburger Concerto (Part 4 Medium 2)
Main Album: Hamburger Concerto
Track number: 5c
Genre: Progressive Rock Instrumental (Symphonic)
Studio: Olympic Studios 'B', 117 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 9HL
Length: 6' 03” (20' 15” the whole)
Composer: Jan Akkerman
Musicians: Jan Akkerman – Electric Guitars (Fenders), Handclaps; Thijs Van Leer – Hammond organ, ARP Synthesiser, Handclaps; Bert Ruiter - Bass; Colin Allen – Drums
Producer: Mike Vernon
Engineer: Bob Hall
Label: Polydor, Atco, EMI, Red Bullet, JVC, JVC Victor
Date of recording/release: January/March 1974; April 1974. CD – 1998, 2001, 2001, 2002, 2006
Notes: We begin with just Akkerman's guitar playing very simply, backed by organ and cymbals (09:29-09:56). Next comes a hauntingly beautiful continuation of that backed this time by synthesiser and rhythm section (09:57-10:22). This leads into a guitar-led section featuring horn-like 'violined' then plucked and sometimes very jazzy guitar (10:23-13:09). A second guitar is then overdubbed and the organ slowly becomes more prominent (13:10-14:13). The effects pedal is again depressed next and handclaps are heard as things slow a little (14:14-14:39). This gives way to guitar, keyboards and finger cymbals (14:40-14:53). This sequence is more or less repeated (14:54-15:05/15:06-15:30) until things slow down to a silence.

20080527

Track by track 44c

Archive number: 44c
Title: Hamburger Concerto (Part 3 Medium 1)
Main Album: Hamburger Concerto
Track number: 5c
Genre: Progressive Rock Instrumental (Symphonic)
Studio: Olympic Studios 'B', 117 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 9HL
Length: 4' 06” (20' 15” the whole)
Composer: Thijs Van Leer
Musicians: Jan Akkerman – Electric Guitars (Fenders); Thijs Van Leer – Hammond organ, ARP Synthesiser, Flute, Voices; Bert Ruiter - Bass; Colin Allen – Drums, Castanets, Percussion
Producer: Mike Vernon
Engineer: Bob Hall
Label: Polydor, Atco, EMI, Red Bullet, JVC, JVC Victor
Date of recording/release: January/March 1974; April 1974. CD – 1998, 2001, 2001, 2002, 2006
Notes: Next Van Leer sings evoking an opera with female and male leads (05:23-06:18). No words are used but a form of scat. In 06:19-06:35 Akkerman's guitar with the effects pedal on leads joined by various percussive instruments. Next comes a rather eastern section led by organ with castanets, other percussion then trumpet-like guitar (06:57) and rising and falling with more organ, guitar and percussion (06:36-08:04). A flute-led piece comes next with castanets, tambourine and drums backing (08:05-09:03). Akkerman then winds down with the guitar effects and heavy drums then cymbals (09:04-09:29).
Note on castanets (from Wikipedia)
A percussion instrument much used in Moorish, Ottoman, Ancient Roman, Italian, Iberian (especially flamenco) and Latin American music. A pair of concave shells joined on one edge by string are held in the hand and used to produce clicks for rhythmic accents or a ripping or rattling sound consisting of a rapid series of clicks. They are traditionally made of hardwood, though fibreglass is popular. In practice a player usually uses two pairs of castanets, one pair in each hand, with the string hooked over the thumb and the castanets resting on the palm with the fingers bent over to support the other side. Each pair will make a sound of a slightly different pitch. The higher pair (hembra - female), is usually held in the right hand, the larger (macho) in the left. They are sometimes attached to a handle, or mounted to a base to form a pair of machine castanets. This makes them easier to play, but also alters the sound, particularly for the machine castanets. The name (Spanish: castañuelas) is from the diminutive form of castaña, Spanish for chestnut, which they resemble. In Andalusia they are known as palillos (little sticks). The origins of the instrument are unknown. They feature in music by Bizet, Chabrier, Wagner, Rimsky-Korsakov, Ravel and others.

Track by track 44b

Archive number: 44b
Title: Hamburger Concerto (Part 2 Rare)
Main Album: Hamburger Concerto
Track number: 5b
Genre: Progressive Rock Instrumental (Symphonic)
Studio: Olympic Studios 'B', 117 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 9HL
Length: 3' 24” (20' 15” the whole)
Composer: Jan Akkerman
Musicians: Jan Akkerman – Electric Guitars (Fenders); Thijs Van Leer – Hammond organ, Electric piano, Mellotron, Vibes, ARP Synthesiser; Bert Ruiter - Bass, autoharp, triangles, chinese finger cymbals, Swiss bells; Colin Allen – Drums, percussion
Producer: Mike Vernon
Engineer: Bob Hall
Label: Polydor, Atco, EMI, Red Bullet, JVC, JVC Victor
Date of recording/release: January/March 1974; April 1974. CD – 1998, 2001, 2001, 2002, 2006
Notes: The piece carries on with the band in unison, alternating the 'rare' theme with the repeated riff (02:00-02:11; 02:12-02:22; 02:23-02:46; 02:47-02:59; 03:00-03:22; 03:23-03:34). Guitar and synthesiser led, the organ is more prominent on the second statement of the theme and extra percussion is heard the first and third time. In 03:35-04:21 we have the final statement of the theme, which now builds then takes off with a mellotron choir, a brief piano phrase and a rising synthesiser part, breaking only to, yet again, give the riff twice over (04:22-04:33). In the next section there is a slowing down as synthesisers, organ and mellotron meld with the vibes and percussion then the guitar with effects too (04:34-05:23) the section ending with the sound of the cymbals.
Note on the ARP 2600 (from Wikipedia)
Monophonic 49-key analogue subtractive audio synthesiser, designed by Alan R Pearlman and manufactured by his company 1971-1981. On initial release it was heavily marketed to educational facilities. Pearlman also provided synthesisers to famous musicians (eg Townshend, Stevie Wonder) for celebrity endorsements. Unlike other modular systems of the time, which required modules to be purchased individually and wired by the user, it was semi-modular with a fixed selection of basic synthesiser components internally pre-wired. Three basic versions were built. 1. "Blue Marvin" (after engineer Marvin Cohen) housed in a light blue/grey metal case, was assembled in a garage during ARP's infancy. 2. Later models were built in a vinyl covered wood case and contained an imitation of Bob Moog's infamous 4-pole "ladder" VCF (later subject of an infamous, threatened lawsuit). Mid-production grey models (the Van Leer era) featured many changes amongst themselves. Various panel lettering and circuitry changes provided at least three different grey panel models. 3. Later models had orange labels over a black aluminum panel. An ARP 2600 was used to create the voice of R2-D2 in the Star Wars movies.

Track by track 44a

Archive number: 44a
Title: Hamburger Concerto (Part 1 Starter)
Main Album: Hamburger Concerto
Track number: 5a
Genre: Progressive Rock Instrumental (Symphonic)
Studio: Olympic Studios 'B', 117 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 9HL
Length: 1' 59” (20' 15” the whole)
Composer: Thijs Van Leer (Based on Brahms/Haydn)
Musicians: Jan Akkerman – Electric Guitars (Fenders), Timpani; Thijs Van Leer – Hammond organ, Piano, ARP Synthesiser; Bert Ruiter - Bass; Colin Allen – Drums, Timpani
Producer: Mike Vernon
Engineer: Bob Hall
Label: Polydor, Atco, EMI, Red Bullet, JVC, JVC Victor
Date of recording/release: January/March 1974; April 1974. CD – 1998, 2001, 2001, 2002, 2006
Alternative version: Van Leer first made use of the Haydn piece back in the Ramses Shaffy days. It can be heard twice on the album Sunset Sunkiss.
Notes: The opening part draws on the St Anthony Chorale by Haydn later taken up by Brahms who wrote variations on it. We begin with the organ, backed by the guitar acting as a drone and with a timpani roll (00:00-00:14). This leads into a statement of the Haydn theme by 'violined' guitar, backed by a meandering bass (00:15-00:29). The timpani come in again along with a jangling piano (00:30-00:36) before reverting to the guitar and bass alone with the organ in the background and distant timpani (00:37-00:55). The synthesiser then leads (from 00:56). A cymbal is tapped (01:01) and the synthesiser part is repeated, then a guitar with an effect pedal on (used often in the piece) comes in too. At 01:21 the guitar leads the band for the first dramatic statement of Akkerman's main 13-note riff, which is played twice. Next we revert to the earlier theme on 'violined' guitar and bass, first with jangling piano then a drum roll (01:34-01:46) and the riff is again played twice.
Note on Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn (from Wikipedia):
Consisting of a theme in B-flat major, eight variations and a finale, it was composed in summer 1873 by Johannes Brahms and published in two versions: variations for two pianos, written first (Op 56b) and the same piece for orchestra (Op 56a). The piece is usually about 18 minutes in length. The first performance of the orchestral version was given November 2, 1873 by the Vienna Philharmonic under Brahms's baton.
Origin of the theme
Recent scholarship has revealed that, despite the title of the work, the theme is very unlikely to be by Haydn. In 1870, Brahms's friend Carl Ferdinand Pohl, librarian for the Vienna Philharmonic, was working on a Haydn biography and showed Brahms a transcription he had made of a piece attributed to Haydn (Divertimento No 1). The second movement bore the heading St Anthony Chorale. While current usage still prefers the original title, Variations on the St Anthony Chorale is the name favoured by those who object to perpetuating a misattribution. Even that name, however, tells us very little. To date, no other mention of the so-called "St Anthony Chorale" has been found.
Form
The theme begins with a repeated ten-measure passage which itself consists of two intriguing five-measure phrases, a quirk that is likely to have caught Brahms's attention. Almost without exception, the eight variations follow the phrasal structure of the theme and, though less strictly, the harmonic structure as well. Each has a distinctive character.

Track by track 43

Archive number: 43
Title: Birth
Main Album: Hamburger Concerto
Track number: 4
Genre: Progressive Rock Instrumental
Studio: Olympic Studios 'B', 117 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 9HL
Length: 7' 42”
Composer: Akkerman
Musicians: Jan Akkerman – Electric Guitars (Fenders); Thijs Van Leer – Harpsichord, Hammond organ, Flute; Bert Ruiter - Bass, Triangle, Finger Cymbals; Colin Allen – Drums, Flexatone, Cabasa
Producer: Mike Vernon
Engineer: Bob Hall
Label: Polydor, Atco, EMI, Red Bullet, JVC, JVC Victor
Date of recording/release: January/March 1974; April 1974. CD – 1998, 2001, 2001, 2002, 2006
Alternative version: This grew out of the single Early birth
Notes: Firstly, a harpsichord takes us back to where the album began (00:00-00:46). It is heard again (01:09-11) as is the organ (01:14ff). From Colin Allen's stirring 'Here we go' (00:47) and the sound of the cymbals and drum we know we have suddenly leapt forward in time (00:47-01:01). A flexatone is heard (00:57) and a cabasa before we move into a slow march led by guitar with bass, drums then organ and eventually further back in the mix guitar and harpsichord (01:02-01:41). This builds until a first band-backed mainly flute-solo takes us on (01:42-02:03) before we descend into Akkerman's first band-backed horn-like guitar solo (02:04-02:30). Akkerman then applies an effect and, backed by bass, drums and harpsichord (02:31-02:46) brings us to a second flute-led solo, backed with finger cymbals and perhaps other percussion (02:47-03:31). This then blends into a second band-backed guitar solo (03:32-04:12) to close the first half of the number. At 04:13 we step back briefly to the previous build up with some harpsichord, triangles, finger cymbals and other percussion. At 04:28 the flute again takes the lead (04:28-04:50) before descending to a brief now wailing guitar solo (04:51-05:17). As we approach the climax, the guitar again uses the effect, backed by both harpsichord and organ (05:18-05:34). Gentle percussion again, as well as the full band, backs Van Leer's final flute-led solo, which begins smoothly then becomes increasingly agitated and breathless (05:35-06:37). It eventually slides into Akkerman's final majestic now screaming guitar solo (06:38-07:40). We end with lots of crashing cymbals.
Why birth? Akkerman's first son was not born until 1975. He met his first wife Lammy in 1973. It led to a later track called Virgin Mary so may be he was thinking on a higher plane.

Track by track 42

Archive number: 42
Title: Early Birth
Main Album: Single with Harem Scarem 1974. Also on Hamburger Concerto (CD).
Hamburger Concerto (CD version). Track number: 6 (CD)
Genre: Progressive Rock Instrumental
Studio: Olympic Studios 'B', 117 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 9HL
Length: 2' 53”
Composer: Akkerman
Musicians: Jan Akkerman – Electric Guitars (Fenders), Acoustic guitars; Thijs Van Leer – Hammond organ, Flute; Bert Ruiter - Bass; Colin Allen – Drums
Producer: Mike Vernon
Engineer: Bob Hall
Label: Polydor, Atco, EMI, Red Bullet, JVC, JVC Victor
Date of recording/release: January/March 1974; April 1974. CD – 1998, 2001, 2001, 2002, 2006
Alternative version: Birth (note also Virgin Mary)
Notes: This appears to be the original 'demo' of Birth – shorter, simpler in execution and with more of a live feel. The title shows it to be a more primitive version. Certainly the additional percussion is gone, as are the harpsichord, synthesiser and some of the production. There also appears to be an acoustic guitar present not discernible on Birth itself. This acoustic guitar riff provides the basis for Akkerman's later track Virgin Mary (Blues Hearts). Guitars, bass, organ and cymbals set the scene (00:00-00:23) then a drum-led beat kicks in with some funky electric guitar (00:24-00:43) building to a first flute-led solo (00:44-01:03) followed by one led by soaring electric guitar (01:04-01:31). A bridge follows featuring flute and acoustic guitar (01:32-01:46) before one more flute-led solo (01:47-02:17) and a rather truncated electric guitar-led solo (02:18-02:53) still rather far back in the mix and that never quite gets going before the fade.