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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20191122

Track by track 134

Archive number: 134
Title: Message Magique
Main Album: Focus X 
Track number: 0
Genre: Progressive Rock with vocal 
Studio: Fieldwork Studios, Schoten, Belgium 
Length: 3:53
Composer: Ben van der Linden
Musicians: Thijs van Leer – Piano, organ, flute; Menno Gootjes – Guitars; Bobby Jacobs – Bass; Pierre van der Linden – Drums 
Producer: Bobby Jacobs 
Label: Eastworld Recordings
Date of recording/release: November, 2012
Alternative version: An earlier flute version of this track can be found on Thijs's solo album Renaissance

Notes: The track is introduced by nine seconds of drums then a piano and bass come in for another nine seconds before the lead guitar takes up the main theme in that rising Focus style that is so familiar. This continues until 1:46 when it is the turn of the flute to lead for several bars. From 2:27, it is flute and guitar that synchronise to lead the band. Around 3:15 the descent to the close begins, chiefly led by the flute but concluding with a satisfying sigh from the lead guitar.

Note on Ben van der Linden. Van der Linden (no relation) is a pianist and composer. He learned to play the organ as a child in church. He also studied piano with Jaap Callenbach at the Rotterdam Conservatory. He became pianist with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra for two and a half years then studied electronic music with CEM and jazz with Chick Corea.
He also led the Ben van der Linden Trio and was a student of jazz pianist Louis van Dijk.
Over the years he has worked with van Leer and many others including the singer Della Bosiers, the Peter Blanker Consort, Liselore Gerritsen, Fons Jansen, violinist Christiaan Bor, Conny Vandenbos, filmmaker Bob Rooijens, Henk van Ulsen, Ramses Shaffy, Willem Wilmink, Jan Boer Chair, Audrey Hepburn and Huub Oosterhuis. He was musical leader with Paul van Vliet for nine years and has composed hundreds of songs for different people. His work can be heard on around 80 commercial recordings.

20191121

Track by track 133

Archive number: 133
Title: Talk of the Clown
Main Album: Focus X 
Track number: 8
Genre: Progressive Rock with vocal 
Studio: Fieldwork Studios, Schoten, Belgium 
Length: 2:59
Composer: Thijs van Leer (based on James Hook)
Musicians: Thijs van Leer – Flute; Menno Gootjes – Acoustic guitar; Bobby Jacobs – Bass; Pierre Van der Linden – Drums 
Producer: Bobby Jacobs 
Label: Eastworld Recordings
Date of recording/release: November, 2012

Alternative version: A briefer version of the same track is on Thijs's solo album Renaissance entitled Pierrot
Notes: This playful little acoustic instrumental piece has a renaissance feel about it with Thijs's flute and Menno's guitar leading things with a bass and marching drum backing. A joyful little gem.

Note on James Hook (1746-1827). Born in Norwich, England, Hook was the son of a razor-grinder and cutler and a musical child prodigy. Some time around 1764 he moved to London to become organist at White Conduit House, Pentonville, a tea garden, a popular venue in 18th-century London. He worked as an organist, teacher and composer and gained a reputation for composing vocal music. He married artist and writer Elizabeth Jane Madden in 1766. They had two son. In 1768 he became organist and composer to Marylebone Gardens. In addition to performances on organ, and occasionally on harpsichord, he was now invited to perform concertos between the main works in theatres, and his short musical entertainments and comic operas were being produced for pleasure gardens and in London theatres. In 1776 he became organist at St Johns Horselydown, Bermondsey, and frequently played concerts on newly built organs, in London and beyond, often playing his own compositions. He was highly successful as a keyboard teacher. He later worked at Vauxhall Gardens. His pupil Margaret Thornton (after marriage Martyr) often sang his songs there. Over the years Hook composed operas and other works, most of which were produced at Drury Lane and Covent Garden Theatres. He frequently collaborated with family members. His wife wrote the libretto for opera The Double Disguise (1784); his son James librettos for Jack of Newbury (1795) and Diamond Cut Diamond (1797) and his other son Thomas Edward librettos for at least eight operas. In 1805 his first wife died and the next year he married Harriet Horncastle James. It was at this time that he produced his best work, Tekeli, or the Siege of Montgatz, the life and adventure of Imre Thököly. In 1820 he unexpectedly left his position at Vauxhall, after almost a half century of service. He died seven years later in Boulogne.