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 16 Sylvia

Archive number: 16
Title: Sylvia
Main Album: Focus 3 (also a single in 1972 and 1973)
Track number: 3
Genre: Jazz Rock Instrumental
Studio: Olympic Studios 'B', 117 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 9HL
Length: 03' 24"
Composer: Thijs Van Leer
Musicians: Jan Akkerman – Electric guitars (Gibson Les Paul Customs?); Thijs Van Leer – Hammond organ, Voice; Bert Ruiter - Bass; Pierre Van Der Linden – Drums
Producer: Mike Vernon
Engineer: George Chkiantz
Label: LP – Imperial, Polydor, Sire CD – Capitol, EMI-Bovema, IRS, Red Bullet , JVC Victor Date of recording/release: July 1972/November 1972, 1975 CD - 1988, 1993, 2001, 2002, 2004
Alternative version: A live version appears on the Rainbow album. Van Leer has done acoustic versions (Hommage aan Rogier van Otterloo, etc). Akkerman likes to do what he calls Sylvia's grandmother emphasising his own contribution to the original hit. There have been some covers.
Notes: Apparently this was always intended as a single and so was probably recorded before the other material for Focus 3. One of Focus's most famous tracks, still played on the radio today, it was originally written by van Leer in the late sixties for Sylvia Alberts, when both were working as backing singers for Ramses Shaffy and Liesbeth List. The original piece used a lyric by Linda van Dijk, beginning "I thought I could do everything on my own, I was always stripping the town alone" (!). Alberts did not like the track and so it was shelved until being dusted down and used by Focus in its instrumental form. The Focus track begins with that famous jazz riff on guitars, reminiscent of the work of David T Walker, Louis Shelton and Don Peake on the 1969 Jackson 5 hit I want you back. The ambience is enhanced by heavy reverb from the one channel acting as a sort of drone against the chopped chords. (This is not found on live versions, of course). The organ and bass join in (00:09) then drums (00:15). The whole opening section lasts until 00:24, when the guitar leads the band into the main theme (00:25-00:42). The chopped chords then return (00:43-00:50) to be followed once again by the guitar-led theme (00:51-01:47). At 01:09-01:12 there is a brief bridge that features again at 01:48-02:00 where it is repeated three times, accompanied by van Leer's vibrato voice. In 02:01-02:45 we visit the main theme once again (note the distinctive variation around 02:18). This leads to a false ritartando ending when the chopped chords break in for the last time (02:46-02:54) again joined first by organ and bass (02:55-03:01) then drums (03:02-03:24) before the fade.

No comments: