The different sources of themes and quotes littered through Focus tracks

By John Huff

I read the article on Starter, and others concerning origins of Focus tracks. There are many others. On Akkernet, for example, it's mentioned somewhere that "Sylvia" is an adaptation of a Dutch hymn. The opening bars of "Eruption" are lifted from the Monteverdi opera "Orpheus" (there's supposed to be a quote from the Gluck opera somewhere in there as well, but I don't know it...) while "Harem Scarem" includes brief sections with a riff quoted from Miles Davies' "In a Silent Way". "Father Bach" at the end of Mother Focus is actually credited to Traditional. Without referrring to my collection, I can't remember if "Delittae Musicae" on Hamburger Concerto was as well... it sounds like one of Akkerman's pastiches. I'm sure that there must be many other examples.

With regard to "Starter", don't forget that the theme was used right at the beginning of Focus' career - it appears on "Ship of Memories" as "Spoke the Lord Creator" recorded by the van Leer/Akkerman/Dresden/Cleuver line-up, presumably recorded at around the same time as "In and out of Focus". "St.Anthony Chorale" is present as the organ line on "Spoke the Lord Creator" (on side 2 of "Ship of Memories"). You have to listen to catch it behind the overdubbed guitar lines but it's definitely there.

One of the many things that sets Focus apart from other bands in the same field is that they made these quotations and tunes work for them, rather than simply "adapting" as other bands did (and indeed as the band members' solo works tended to do).

PS: - With regard to authorships, I had a look at my LPs and found that "Starter" is credited there to Trad. arranged Thijs van Leer - the "Trad" has got away on the CD. Also, "Medium 1" has a co-credit to Jan Akkerman on the Polydor LP that didn't get to the CD release. "Delittae Musicae" is credited as Trad. arranged Jan Akkerman. "Spoke the Lord Creator" is credited to Thijs van Leer on the LP version of "Ship of Memories", without the Trad.

John Huff - Sep/15/98

Previous | Section Index