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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20210604

Track by track 155

Archive number: 155
Title: Winnie
Main Album: The Focus Family Album
Track number: 20
Genre: Progressive Rock Instrumental
Studio: Mosh Studios, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Length: 5:26
Composer: Thijs van Leer
Musicians: Thijs van Leer – Hammond organ, piano, flute; Menno Gootjes – Guitars; Udo Panekeet – Bass; Pierre van der Linden – Drums
Producer: Geert Scheigrond
Engineer: Geert Scheigrond
Label: In and Out of Focus Recordings
Date of recording/release: 2017

Notes: Winnie is Menno's daughter. The track begins with a slow and atmospheric intro from the band (00:00-00:35) until the reverberating electric guitar takes up the lead. Just over the two minute mark a whistful flute comes in backed by piano, for half a minute or so before reverting to the guitar led theme for a while, but with the piano. At the 3:30 mark the flute comes in again until 3:49. The guitar then takes up the lead again backed by piano, drums and bass in the same whistful way as before. The reverbed guitar ends the track, alone for the last 20 seconds or so.

Track by track 154

Archive number: 154
Title: Anaya
Main Album: The Focus Family Album
Track number: 19
Genre: Bass solo
Studio: Unknown
Length: 1:53
Composer: Udo Pannekeet
Musicians: Udo Pannekeet - Six string Bass, percussion machine
Producer: Geert Scheigrond
Engineer: Geert Scheigrond
Label: In and Out of Focus Recordings
Date of recording/release: 2017
Notes: Anaya is the 9-year-old daughter of Yaminah. This is another more lively solo bass piece from Udo Pannekeet with percussion machine and multi-tracking.

Track by track 152

Archive number: 152
Title: Raga Reverence 5
Main Album: The Focus Family Album (also on Swung Vol 2)
Track number: 17
Genre: Jam
Studio: Unknown
Length: 3:49
Composer: Menno Gootjes, Bobby Jacobs & Pierre van der Linden
Musicians: Menno Gootjes - Guitar; Bobby Jacobs - Bass; Pierre van der Linden - Drums
Producer: Bobby Jacobs
Engineer: Bobby Jacobs?
Label: In and Out of Focus Recordings
Date of recording/release: 2014/2017
Notes: This jam begins with a bass groove, soon joined by drums and guitar in a lively and brief manner. The guitar gets quite intricate before the set melts down and ends.

Track by track 150

Archive number: 150
Title: Hazel
Main Album: The Focus Family Album
Track number:15
Genre: Acoustic guitar
Studio: Unknown
Length: 1:56
Composer: Menno Gootjes
Musicians: Menno Gootjes – Guitar
Producer: Geert Scheijgrond
Engineer: Geert Scheigrond
Label: In and Out of Focus Recordings
Date of recording/release: 2017
Notes: Menno plays his guitar again.

Track by track 148

Archive number: 148
Title: Spiritual Swung
Main Album: The Focus Family Album
Track number: 13
Genre: Drums
Studio: Unknown
Length: 3:02
Composer: Pierre van der Linden
Musicians: Pierre van der Linden - Drums
Producer: Geert Scheigrond
Engineer: Marlies Helder
Label: In and Out of Focus Recordings
Date of recording/release: 2017
Alternative version: The same track is on Drum Poetry
Notes: This is another drum piece from Pierre van der Linden.

Track by track 146

Archive number: 146 
Title:  Let us wander
Main Album: The Focus Family Album 
Track number: 11
Genre: Solo instrumental (Flute)
Studio: Unknown 
Length: 2:33
Composer: Thijs van Leer 
Musicians: Thijs van Leer – 1989 Muramatsu Flute 
Producer: Geert Scheigrond 
Engineer: Geert Scheigrond 
Label: In and Out of Focus Recordings 
Date of recording/release: 2017 
Notes:  Thijs apparently wanders near a river playing his flute with aquatic and other background nature sounds.

Track by track 144

Archive number: 144
Title: Song for Yaminah
Main Album: The Focus Family Album
Track number: 9
Genre: Solo instrumental
Studio: Unknown
Length: 1:53
Composer: Udo Pannekeet
Musicians: Udo Pannekeet – five string bass
Producer: Geert Scheigrond
Engineer: Geert Scheigrond
Label: In and Out of Focus Recordings
Date of recording/release: 2017
Notes: Dedicated to his one true love, this pleasant piece find the klatest Focus bass player exploring his instrument wioth skill.

Track by track 143

Archive number: 143
Title: The fifth man
Main Album: The Focus Family Album
Track number: 8
Genre: Progressive Rock Instrumental
Studio: Mosh Studios, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Length: 4:40
Composer: Thijs van Leer
Musicians: Thijs van Leer – Hammond organ, piano, flute; Menno Gootjes – Guitars; Udo Panekeet – Bass; Pierre van der Linden – Drums
Producer: Geert Scheigrond
Engineer: Geert Scheigrond
Label: In and Out of Focus Recordings
Date of recording/release: April 13 2014/2017
Notes: The track begins with ten seconds of distorted guitar riff before the drums and bass come in and then the Hammond at around 00:33. The whole band rocks with the riff until 01:41 when a new theme is picked out on guitar over the band. at 01:58 it is just guitar again for some seconds before the band kick in again. At 02:21 van Leer's jazzy Hammond takes the lead until at 02:42 the original guitar led riff comes back in, before we have the clear guitar again at 03:06 which then becomes a drum led band finale with improvised blues guitar and reversions to the themes until a sudden stop at the end.

Track by track 142

Archive number: 142
Title: Raga Reverence 1
Main Album: The Focus Family Album (also on Swung Vol 2)
Track number: 7
Genre: Jam
Studio: Unknown
Length: 6:24
Composer: Menno Gootjes, Bobby Jacobs & Pierre van der Linden
Musicians: Menno Gootjes - Guitar; Bobby Jacobs - Bass; Pierre van der Linden - Drums
Producer: Bobby Jacobs
Engineer: Bobby Jacobs?
Label: In and Out of Focus Recordings
Date of recording/release: 2017
Notes: This jam begins briefly with cymbals then a bass riff from Bobby with the drums joining in at 00:13 and the guitar playing over it at 00:20 forward. A second guitar appears to be overdubbed most of the way so that the high notes and the more chugging style compliment each other. We have something of a slowing down at 04:50 before the while trails away.
A note on jam session (based on Wikipedia)
This is a relatively informal musical event, process, or activity where musicians, typically instrumentalists, play improvised solos and vamp on tunes, songs and chord progressions. To "jam" is to improvise music without extensive preparation or predefined arrangements, except for when the group is playing well-known jazz standards or covers of existing popular songs. Original jam sessions, also 'free flow sessions', are often used by musicians to develop new material (music) and find suitable arrangements. Both styles can be used simply as a social gathering and communal practice session. Jam sessions may be based upon existing songs or forms, may be loosely based on an agreed chord progression or chart suggested by one participant, or may be wholly improvisational. Jam sessions can range from very loose gatherings of amateurs to evenings where a jam session coordinator or host acts as a "gatekeeper" to ensure that only appropriate-level performers take the stage, to sophisticated improvised recording sessions by professionals which are intended to be broadcast live on radio or TV or edited and released to the public.

20210603

Focus / 50 Years: Anthology 1970-1976

 



9CD+2DVD box set

50 Years: Anthology 1970-1976 is a box set that contains the complete work of Focus between 1970 and 1976.
The set is curated by Focus/Jan Akkerman archivist Wouter Bessels whoe previously curated the 26 CD Akkerman box set. It features newly remastered versions of the first five studio albums all of which come with rare bonus tracks (single versions, alternates, rough mixes). Additionally, it includes the 1973 live album At The Rainbow, the Ship of Memories compilation from 1976 (which features 11 bonus tracks), the complete BBC In Concert 1973 gig taken from the original stereo master tapes and a disc of unreleased live performances.
Two DVDs (PAL, region-free) contain over four hours of audiovisual material taken from the archives of various TV stations around the world and include the first official release of the 1973 ‘Focus At The Rainbow’ concert movie, carefully restored from the original 16 mm film.
The box set comes with an inforative 80-page booklet with band history, liner notes and various memorabilia.

Wouter Möller


Classical musician Wouter Möller turns out to be the previously uncredited cello player on the every early track Happy nightmare (mescaline).

20210602

New Book on Focus


A new book has recently appeared on Focus in the Seventies. By Stephen Lambe, the book endeavours to guide the reader through the band's early history year by year, up to the end of the seventies. It deals with eight Focus albums song by song and gives the same treatment to Akkerman and van Leer's solo work 1970-1979. It claims to be a potted history of the band and an insight into the tensions which lead to such a creative - if short lived - peak and "an essential guide to the astonishing music the two men made while at the peak of their powers." Like so many books of this sort it labours under the difficulty of being so appallingly proof read (I'm not sure any attempt was actually made beyond using a computer spell check). The album by album analysis is not appealing to the casual reader either. The approach is to have Lambe voice his own opinion about the music, which is fine where you agree but more difficult where you do not. Apparently, Eruption is brilliant but Anonymus not so and the Introspection albums are too much of their time. It's nice to hear opinions I suppose. It's greatest achievement is to have persuaded me to buy the latest Focus Collection, the fifty year anthology. Anyway, if you are a Focus fanatic do buy it. PS Mr Lambe, please please let me proofread a second edition.

20210309

Track by track 141

Archive number: 141
Title: Mosh Blues
Main Album: The Focus Family Album
Track number: 6
Genre: Prog Rock
Studio: Unknown
Length: 6:24
Composer: Thijs Van Leer, Menno Gootjes, Bobby Jacobs & Pierre van der Linden
Musicians: Thijs van Leer - organ, scat, flute; Menno Gootjes - Guitar; Bobby Jacobs - Bass; Pierre van der Linden - Drums
Producer: Geert Scheijgrond
Engineer: Geert Scheigrond
Label: In and Out of Focus Recordings
Date of recording/release: 2017
Notes: The track begins with a bass and drums led band groove, the Hammond coming in from 00:27. Hammond and lead guitar swap the limelight, the guitar eventually triumphing, At 3:18 van Leer gives us about 48 seconds of scat, 28 seconds of Hammond lead and 47 seconds of breathy flute. The band then playout the rest of the song, which lasts just over a minute until the final chord.

Moshing
(From Wikipedia) Also known as slam dancing or simply slamming, it is a style of dance in which participants push or slam into each other, typically performed to "aggressive" live music. Moshing usually happens in the centre of the crowd, generally closer to the stage, in an area called the "pit". It is intended to be energetic and full of body contact.
The dance style originated in the hardcore punk scenes of California and Washington, D.C. around 1980. Through the 1980s it spread to other branches of punk rock as well as thrash metal and grunge, which exposed it to the mainstream. Since then, moshing has occasionally been performed to energetic music within a wide variety of genres, including alternative rock, EDM and hip hop, while remaining a staple at punk and heavy metal shows.
Variations of moshing exist, including "pogoing", "circle pits", and "wall of death". Dancing can be done alone as well as in groups.
While moshing is seen as a form of positive fan feedback or expression of enjoyment, it has also drawn criticism over dangerous excesses occurring in offshoots. Injuries have been reported.

20201113

Track by track 140

Archive number: 140
Title: Two-part Intervention
Main Album: The Focus Family Album
Track number: 5
Genre: Acoustic guitar
Studio: Unknown
Length: 1:21
Composer: Menno Gootjes
Musicians: Menno Gootjes – Guitar
Producer: Geert Scheijgrond
Engineer: Geert Scheigrond
Label: In and Out of Focus Recordings
Date of recording/release: 2017
Notes: Menno plays his guitar

Track by track 139

Archive number: 139
Title: Victoria
Main Album: The Focus Family Album
Track number: 4
Genre: Prog Rock Instrumental
Studio: Fieldwork Studios, Schoten, Belgium (Mixed at B-Spot Studio; mastered at Tube Mastering)
Length: 5:28
Composer: Thijs van Leer
Musicians: Thijs van Leer – Hammond organ, piano, flute; Menno Gootjes – Guitars, Vocals; Bobby Jacobs – Bass; Pierre van der Linden – Drums
Producer: Bobby Jacobs, Geert Scheijgrond
Engineer: Bram Bol/Geert Scheigrond
Label: In and Out of Focus Recordings
Date of recording/release: 2012/2017
Alternative recording: This is an edit from the version on Focus X
Notes: See Track by track 128

Track by track 138

Archive number: 138
Title: Riverdance
Main Album: The Focus Family Album
Track number: 3
Genre: Drums
Studio: Unknown
Length: 4:45
Composer: Pierre van der Linden
Musicians: Pierre van der Linden - Drums
Producer: Geert Scheigrond
Engineer: Marlies Helder
Label: In and Out of Focus Recordings
Date of recording/release: 2017
Alternative version: The same track is on Drum Poetry
Notes: This is a drum piece from Pierre van der Linden

Track by track 137

Archive number: 137
Title: Song for Eva
Main Album: The Focus Family Album
Track number: 2
Genre: Jazz Rock
Studio: Unknown
Length: 9:31
Composer: Thijs van Leer/Lord Byron 
Musicians: Thijs van Leer - Piano, Organ , Voice, Menno Gootjes - Guitars, Udo Pannekeet - Bass, Pierre van der Linden - Drums
Producer: Geert Scheigrond
Engineer: Geert Scheigrond
Label: In and Out of Focus Recordings
Date of recording/release: 2017
Alternative version: Introspection 4
Notes:
Eva is Thijs's oldest daughter and he wrote this song for her. It was used as the theme (using the original version) to a 1978 Dutch TV drama called Exit 7.
We begin with piano and Thijs speaks the Byron poem below supported by the band. After about a minute the guitar leads with a repeated slow yearning strain that carries the main theme. This continues until 4:05 when a more jazzy guitar leads another passage, increasingly complex. This eventually blends back into something like the previous theme, which is repeated from 7:17. In the last 50 seconds the whole thing winds down in the manner that the section began at 4:05 but coming to a close this time.
Words (Lord Byron)

They say that Hope is happiness;
But genuine Love must prize the past,
And Memory wakes the thoughts that bless:
They rose the first - they set the last;

And all that Memory loves the most 
Was once our only Hope to be,
And all that Hope adored and lost
Hath melted into Memory.

Alas! it is delusion all:
The future cheats us from afar,
Nor can we be what we recall,
Nor dare we think on what we are.

Lord Byron (from Wikipedia) - George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, FRS (1788–1824), known simply as Lord Byron, was a British peer, who was a poet and politician. He was one of the leading figures of the  Romantic Movement and is regarded as one of the greatest British poets. He remains widely read and influential. Among his best-known works are the lengthy narrative poems Don Juan and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage; many of his shorter lyrics in Hebrew Melodies also became popular. This poem is from the latter source.
He travelled extensively across Europe, especially in Italy, where he lived for seven years in Venice, Ravenna and Pisa. During his stay in Italy he frequently visited his friend and fellow poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Later in life Byron joined the Greek War of Independence fighting the Ottoman Empire and died of disease leading a campaign during that war, for which the Greeks revere him as a national hero. He died at the age of 36 from a fever contracted after the First and Second Siege of Missolonghi.
His only legitimate child, Ada Lovelace, is regarded as a foundational figure in the field of computer programming, based on her notes for Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine. Byron's illegitimate children include Allegra Byron, who died in childhood, and possibly Elizabeth Medora Leigh.

20200926

Track by track 136

Archive number: 136 
Title: Nature is our Friend 
Main Album: The Focus Family Album 
Track number: 1 
Genre: Solo instrumental 
Studio: Unknown 
Length: 3:14 
Composer: Thijs van Leer 
Musicians: Thijs van Leer – 1989 Muramatsu Flute 
Producer: Geert Scheigrond 
Engineer: Geert Scheigrond 
Label: In and Out of Focus Recordings 
Date of recording/release: 2017 
Notes: 
Thijs apparently wanders in the woods playing his flute with background nature sounds

Track by track 135 Crossroads

Archive number: 135
Title: Crossroads
Main Album: Focus X 
Track number: 10
Genre: Jazz Rock with vocal 
Studio: Fieldwork Studios, Schoten, Belgium 
Length: 5:38
Composer: van Leer, Peters
Musicians: Thijs van Leer – Piano, organ, flute, vocal; Menno Gootjes – Guitars; Bobby Jacobs – Bass; Pierre van der Linden – Drums; Berenice van Leer - vocal 
Producer: Bobby Jacobs 
Label: Eastworld Recordings
Date of recording/release: November, 2012
Alternative version: This is a version of Brazil Love
The track begins with rhythmic drums. After five seconds the bass and jazz piano come in then electric guitar. A piano trill at 34 seconds announces a rising choral and guitar part. Then at 1:05 a new driving guitar theme begins and is joined by the flute from 1:44 to 2:13. We then revert to the choral and guitar theme - the guitar perhaps a little wilder. At 2:28 the flute is back, though further back in the mix. At 2:40 to 3:44 van Leer comes in with a spoken style vocal (see below). The vocal continues until the flute and other instruments come back to the fore, the guitar leading latterly. At 4:17 the guitar announces the final part, a brief drum break until 4:43 when the bass adds its own contribution, which goes in until the fade. Apparently there was more but it had to be cut.

Lyrics
I don't want to know just how I feel
Cannot bear to know just how I feel - crossroads ahead
I don't want to think in terms of tears
There's no time to lose you're here
At the crossroads we part.
Love is far ahead and far behind. - the crossroads are here.

How can we still look back at the past, it doesn't last
We cannot change the good and bad times we remember
Here we meet and here we part my friend
And I will love you 'til the end ...
Just like the tide that keep on rolling.

20191122

Track by track 134 Message Magique

Archive number: 134
Title: Message Magique
Main Album: Focus X 
Track number: 9
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 Talk of the Clown

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.

20191028

Focus Under the Bridge London




I have been to Stamford Bridge, Chelsea's ground, more than once but I had not really noticed that under the East stadium near the Shed end there is a venue called Under the Bridge, Last Friday night I and a ministerial friend (who I convinced about Focus last time they were in town) were among a couple of hundred squeezed into this state of the art setting. (A light show is a rare treat at a Focus gig but appreciated - I think the visuals man must have a sense of humour as we had a picture of crocuses as we started on Hocus Pocus or as Jan Akkerman would surely have rechristiened it Focus crocus!). We caught most of Chantel McGregor's set which was of a high standard. She plays guitar and sings with a bass and drums rhythm section. Of course, once Focus stepped on stage were into a whole new zone with each member of the band making a solid contribution that was rewarded with a solo slot for for each - more in some cases. Van Leer was on form with the complete array of two kinds of flute, organ, melodica, scat, whistling, throat singing, lots of vocoder and a brief vocal on the opening song.
The set list began as usual with some very early stuff - Focus 1, a little Anonymus and House of the King. We then had a version of Eruption, good but not outstanding on this occasion I thought. We then moved on to some more recent stuff - Winnie and the simple but effective All hands on deck with the essential Sylvia in the middle.
We then had some songs rarely heard, if ever - Focus 4 (!) from Mother Focus and Focus 6 which has never appeared on a Focus album (I can only find it on a van Leer solo album. You can hear a recent live version here.). Between these we had Who's calling? originally on the Akkerman van Leer Focus collaboration of 1985 but recently revived on the Focus 11 album. Staying with 1985 material we then had a very fine version of Le Tango with melodics, whistling, etc. Before tackling that Thijs remarked on the presence in the audience of former wife Rosalie Peters who wrote lyrics for  this and other songs. We then had two numbers from Hamburger Concerto regularly played back to back La Cathedrale and Harem Scarem. In the second, van Leer takes opportunity to make himself scarce. So we had solos from Menno Gootjes and Udo Pannekeet on six string bass. Van der Linden had had one in Eruption and was to get another very full one on the penultimate track.
The set of over two amazing hours (no-one in the band showing any signs of tiring) closed with the usual Hocus Pocus and then slightly over they plumped for Focus 2 (rather than Focus 3) as the closer. Stupendous stuff.
There was an opportunity to meet the band but there was a rather long queue and so we decided to head off.

20191025

Track by track 132 Hoeratio

Archive number: 132
Title: Hoeratio
Main Album: Focus X
Track number: 7
Genre: Progressive Rock with vocal
Studio: Fieldwork Studios, Schoten, Belgium
Length: 5:38
Composer: Bobby Jacobs
Musicians: Thijs van Leer – Hammond organ, piano, flute, vocal; 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: None
Notes: The band play an atmospheric but languid tune throughout. From 01:12-02:24 van Leer does a voice over reciting from Horace's Ars Poetica the lines below. After this section the guitar leads with a thorough exploration of the fretboard for the next little while before getting back to the march at 04:01 and then van Leer's now more dramatic an unidentified vocal from 04:14. This takes us right to the end where there is a fade.
The words are

Tibia non ut nunc orichalco uincta tubaeque 
aemula, sed tenuis simplexque foramine pauco 
adspirare et adesse choris erat utilis atque 
nondum spissa nimis complere sedilia flatu: 
quo sane populus numerabilis, utpote paruus, 
et frugi castusque uerecundusque coibat. 
Postquam coepit agros extendere uictor et urbem 
latior amplecti murus uinoque diuino 
placari Genius festis impune diebus, 
accessit numerisque modisque licentia maior. 
Indoctus quid enim saperet liberque laborum 
rusticus urbano confusus, turpis honesto?

The meaning

The Flute – not, as now, bound in brass and a rival of the trumpet,
but slight and simple with few stops – was once of use to lead
and aid the chorus and fill with its breath benches not too
crowded, where, to be sure, folk gathered, easy to count because
few sober folk, too, and chaste and modest.
But when a conquering race began to widen its domain and an
ampler wall embraced its cities and when, on festive days,
appeasing the Genius by daylight drinking brought no penalty,
but then both time and tune won greater licence.
For what taste would you expect of an unlettered throng just freed
from toil rustic mixed up with city folk, vulgar with nobly born?

Note on Horace or Horatio (Hoe ratio is a word play - how rational)
Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65–8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus (Octavian). The rhetorician Quintilian regarded his Odes as just about the only Latin lyrics worth reading: "He can be lofty sometimes, yet he is also full of charm and grace, versatile in his figures, and felicitously daring in his choice of words."
Horace also crafted elegant hexameter verses (Satires and Epistles) and caustic iambic poetry (Epodes). The hexameters are amusing yet serious works, friendly in tone, leading the ancient satirist Persius to comment: "as his friend laughs, Horace slyly puts his finger on his every fault; once let in, he plays about the heartstrings".
His career coincided with Rome's momentous change from a republic to an empire. An officer in the republican army defeated at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC, he was befriended by Octavian's right-hand man in civil affairs, Maecenas, and became a spokesman for the new regime. For some commentators, his association with the regime was a delicate balance in which he maintained a strong measure of independence (he was "a master of the graceful sidestep") but for others he was, in John Dryden's phrase, "a well-mannered court slave.
The Ars poetica  or "The Art of Poetry" is a poem written by him about 19 BC. In it he advises poets on the art of writing poetry and drama. It has "exercised a great influence in later ages on European literature, notably on French drama" and has inspired poets and authors since it was written. Although it had been familiar since the Middle Ages, it was used in literary criticism only since the Renaissance.
It includes several famous phrases including quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus (l. 359) or "sometimes even good Homer nods off". Today this expression is used to indicate that even the most skilled poet can make continuity errors and that long works, usually epics may have their faults without that detracting significantly from their general quality. In context, however, Horace censures Homer for such lapses. I mention it as perhaps Homer nodded here too.

New Jan Akkerman Album out today

It is called Close BeautyCheck out the details here The track Retrospection explores the Focus link.

20191011

Hocus Pocus in the movies again

You'll enjoy this trailer especially from 1'09" on

20191010

Track by track 131 Birds Come Fly Over (Le Tango)

Archive number: 131
Title: Birds Come Fly Over (Le Tango)
Main Album: Focus X
Track number: 6
Genre: Jazz Pop Vocal
Studio: Fieldwork Studios, Schoten, Belgium
Length: 5:21
Composer: Thijs van Leer, Roselie Peters
Musicians: Thijs van Leer – Hammond organ, piano, flute, melodica; Menno Gootjes – Guitars; Bobby Jacobs – Bass; Pierre van der Linden – Drums; Ivan Lins - vocals. 
Producer: Bobby Jacobs, Geert Scheijgrond
Label: Eastworld Recordings
Date of recording/release: November, 2012
Alternative version: The same track is on The Focus Family album. Versions of  Le Tango appear on the Focus album with Jan Akkerman, on Introspection 4 and in other places.
Notes: We begin with drums then acoustic guitar, organ, flute and eventually a chugging electric guitar in tango time. At 0:54 the vocal begins. The words are

I'm always watching sunrise,
I have at least a life
And for my heart's desire, I can die.

And you my love, my good love,
I see you live your life,
But in my heart I've often seen you cry.

I'm only waiting for the time to pass,
How can I raise my voice or my hand?
Birds come fly over to the sun.

Out of a million lovers,
One only could be mine,
Oh there's a million others passing by

From sun up until sundown
This life is such a strife
And if you lose your love you lose your life.

I'm only waiting for the time to pass,
How can I raise my voice or my hand?
Birds come fly over to the sun.

There is a brief instrumental section announced by a beat from 2:02-02:21 after verse 3. In the subsequent part van Leer's melodica is heard. From 3:28-04:01 the band comes in more strongly again before the final vocal section which features the second three verses repeated. A piano is heard in the mix this time.

20191003

Track by Track 130 All Hens On Deck

Archive number: 130 
Title: All Hens On Deck 
Main Album: Focus X 
Track number: 5 
Genre: Progressive Rock Instrumental 
Studio: Fieldwork Studios, Schoten, Belgium 
Length: 5:44 
Composer: Thijs van Leer 
Musicians: Thijs van Leer – Hammond organ, piano, flute; Menno Gootjes – Guitars; Bobby Jacobs – Bass; Pierre van der Linden – Drums 
Producer: Bobby Jacobs, Geert Scheijgrond
Label: Eastworld Recordings 
Date of recording/release: November 2012
Notes: The track begins full pelt with drums then the band led by percussive guitar, the flute coming in from 00:06. This goes on until at 00:23 we have the breakdown with a series of three strokes, lasting until 00:44 when the Hammond led band takes up the theme. The flute then leads until 01:01 and the second break down. At 01:16 it is van Leer's scat vocal that comes in echoing the guitar with the band until 01:43. Menno's bluesy guitar then goes on until 02:28 when the scat section is repeated until 02:56. Next comes a radical slow down and a majestic, classical section led by the vocal and guitar. At 04:13 the earliest section is repeated, leading into the scat section (from 04:40). A final six strokes brings us almost to the end (05:25) before a long drawn out cat moan vocal contribution by a finally breathless van Leer.

20190926

Songs played only once in concert

Angel Wings
Anonymous/House of the King
Bésame mucho (Consuelo Velázquez cover)
Blues
Bobby's Bass Solo
Concerto de Aranjuez
Croatian title
De Ti O De Mi
Father Bacchus
Flute introduction
Focus 9 & 10
Focus V & VI
For You, or for Me
Guitar/Bass Solo
Hard Vanilla
Harem Scarem (featuring Menno guitar solo and Udo bass solo)
Harem Scarem (inc guitar and bass solos)
Hoeratio
Jan Akkerman Solo
Jippijippieayo
Just Like Eddy
Le Tango
Little Sister/What You See
Little Sister/What You See/Little Sister
Maximum
My Sweetheart
Profile
Questions answers answers questions
Sneezing Bull
Sonata for Flute
Sylvia (prelude)
Sylvia's Stepson - Ubatuba
The Girl From Bangu
Tommy/Focus III /Hocus Pocus
Tropical bird
Virtuous Woman
Walk on     

Rarely played live songs

Four times
Bass Solo, Blizu Tebé, Bobby bass solo/Harem Scarem reprise, Focus 8, Focus X, Hurkey Turkey, Mare Nostrum, Menno's Guitar Solo, No Hang Ups, Rock & Rio, Thijs' flute & vocal solos, Tommy
Five times
Flute & Keyboard solo, Flute Solo (Thijs), Focus VII, Keyboards and Flute Improvisation, 
Twice
Blues in D, Flute Improvisation, Focus IV, Guitar Solo, Hamburger Concerto Jam, Harem Scarem (reprise), Love Remembered, Medley: Focus (Instrumental)/Focus (Vocal)/Anonymous, Pierre's Drum Solo, Sto Ces Raditi Ostatac Zivota

Less commonly played live songs 21-40

21/22 Anonymous II and Focus V 11
23-25 Focus and Hocus Pocus (Reprise) and Sylvia's Stepson 10
26/27 Flute Solo and P's March 9
28 Ode to Venus 8
29-32 Birth and Drum Solo / Hocus Pocus reprise and Hamburger Concerto and Who's Calling?  7
33-37 Drum Solo and Focus 11 and Focus III / Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers! and Hurkey Turkey 2 and Thijs van Leer Solo 6
38-40 Anonymous and Mazzel and Victoria 5