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.




Track by track 9 House of the King

Archive number: 9
Title: House of the King
Main Album: In and Out of Focus (Left off the American album, it is on the album Focus 3. It was a single in 1970, 1971 [2], 1972, 1976, 1977, 1981 [12”] and 2001)
Track number: 5 (not on the Sire release)
Genre: Progressive Rock Instrumental (mainly acoustic)
Studio: EMI-Bovema Studios, Heemstede, Netherlands
Length: 2' 20"
Composer: Jan Akkerman
Musicians: Jan Akkerman - Acoustic guitars, Electric guitars (Fender telecasters), Handclaps; Thijs van Leer - Flutes, Handclaps, Piano; Martijn Dresden – Bass, Handclaps; Hans Cleuver - Drums
Producer: Tim Griek
Engineer: Andre Hooning
Label: LP - Imperial, Sire, Polydor; CD - EMI Bovema, IRS, Red Bullet
Date of recording/release: Late Summer 1970/Autumn 1970 (1973 in the US. In 1974 the album appeared in Brazil as Pop Giants). CD – 1988, 1993, 2001.
Alternative version: Akkerman has produced more than one alternative version beginning with that on his solo album Tabernakel. Van Leer (who claims a disputed co-writing credit) has also tackled it more than once without Akkerman (eg on Hommage aan Rogier Van Otterloo).
Notes: This is one of the band's best known songs. It was recorded without producer Hubert Terheggen knowing and he was furious at first but he was impressed with the result. A very early original, it has often been re-recorded by the band and individual members in various forms. It has been covered by some minor bands and more than once used as introductory music on TV in the UK (Don't ask me – a popular science programme in the 70s; Saxondale – a more recent comedy). It predates the comparable work of Jethro Tull and Ian Anderson.
The piece begins with 12 seconds of double tracked acoustic guitars before going into the main theme, played on acoustic guitars, (reverbed) flute and bass with the percussion provided by drums on one channel and percussive hand claps on the other (00:00-01:25). At 00:34-00:44 and 01:06-01:16 the electric guitar can be heard with the flute (there are also an extra few flute trills between). Then comes the soaring 'middle eight' led by the electric guitar with acoustic guitars, bass and drums providing the rhythm (01:26-01:50). Piano chords are also heard in the mix. The piece closes with a brief half minute reprise of the main theme (01:51-2:20). The whole ends in unison on a final sustained note that suggests the gong eventually used by Akkerman for his Tabernakel version. Lyrics were written for the piece by Mike Hayes but never used. They can be seen in Peet Johnson's book.

No comments: