Who´s Tom Barlage ?

By Steffen Staugaard

Tom Barlage's Solution The title "Tommy" (from "Focus 2 / Moving Waves") is credited as written by Tom Barlage.
But who´s Tom Barlage !?. The name Tom Barlage shows up different places around the musicians from FOCUS.

Like the guys from FOCUS, he´s from the Netherlands. In the 70-ties he played in a dutch band called "Solution". They released a couple of albums:

- Solution - 1972 - (track list here)

- Divergence - 1973

- Cordon Bleu - 1975

- Fully Interlocking - 1977

- It's only just begun - 1980

- Runaway - 1982

- Live - 1983

The band is considered as essential of the Dutch progressive scene. They blend elements of experimental stuff like Soft Machine and the italian beautiness of PFM (Premiata Forneria Marconi).

Solution has their own sound that can´t be put in a classified box, seeing that they use many different instruments (flute, organ, sax, piano, synth, bass, guitar, drums, percussion) and styles that all together creates a unique sound. Compared to other dutch bands at that time they might be considered as the real pioneers. All in all they´re really progressive and have qualities like FOCUS.

But what´s the deal about FOCUS playing one of Barlages compositions called "Tommy"?
Well - Solution played that song themselves. On the Solution albums (when feautured) the song was called "Divergence". The only comparison to the FOCUS release of the song is the main-theme played by Akkerman on guitar - not the mellotron / voice-intro feautured Thijs Van Leer. The main-theme is played on saxophone by T. Barlage in the Solution release, and the song includes other themes throughout this main theme, when played by Solution.

It´s really inspiring listening to the other release / original release by Solution. I actually don´t know who released the song first on vinyl, but that doesn´t matter. The fact is that there are - lets say - two original releases of that song which is based upon the really strong main-theme. Barlage is mainly a reed-player (saxophone and flute), but he also plays keyboards.

Example on where Barlage is feautured close to the FOCUS-clan:

- Brainbox: "Brainbox" - Flute on "Dark Rose" and "Scarborough Fair"

- Akkerman, Jan: "Live 1978" - Keyboards and Saxes

According to the Akkerman album, he might have toured with Akkerman in 1978 as saxophinist and keyboardist. The above infomation only stands for itself. I´ve made some research, and that´s what has became of it.

Steffen Staugaard - 10.08.98

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