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Focus - The Ultimate Anthology CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.98 | 16 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Forever young. except Thijs!

While apparently not an official Focus release, this Ragnarock (Classic Rock) Productions DVD contains footage which any fan of the band will consider essential. The centrepiece is a full 20 minute rendition of "Hamburger concerto" which seems to be taken from TV performance around the time of its release. The sound is available either as conventional stereo or as DTS enhanced 5.1 surround. Either way, this is pure Focus gold with both Jan Akkerman and Thijs Van Leer are in fine form. The preceding "Hocus pocus" which opens this set, and which finds the band clearly enjoying themselves, dates from around the same time.

Strangely, we then jump forward a quarter of a century to 2002, to find a completely different band bearing the name Focus performing "Eruption", a track which originally appeared on the "Moving waves" album. After realising that the guy with the big hat playing keyboards is in fact still Mr. Van Leer, it becomes clearer that he has surrounded himself with musicians of approximately the same age as Focus were when the track was recorded. I believe the rest of the band here were originally in a Focus tribute band; the quality of their playing would certainly bear this out. Compared to the 70's footage though, there is something slightly cold and aloof about the performances.

The alternation between the classic line up of the 1970's and the Van Leer tribute band of the naughties, which continues throughout, is a little disconcerting. The DVD might have been better had the tracks appeared chronologically by performance. Thus "Eruption" is followed by an Akkerman led rendition of "Anonymous II", which in turn is followed by the 2002 line up playing "House of the king". The rendition of "Anonymous II" does have the unfortunate side effect of reminding me of my sole experience of a Focus gig in the 1970's, where the band arrived 2 hours late, and attempted to make up time by playing everything at breakneck speed.

The 13+ minute "Focus medley" sees Akkerman taking the opportunity to lead a jam session, while taking in themes from the band's best known period. Those who enjoy that aspect of the band's work will revel in being able to also witness the performance. The 2002 rendition of "Focus III" is faithful if unremarkable, while the 70's performance of the classic "Sylvia" is again rather rushed.

On a technical note, the 5.1 surround track is subject to annoying drop out , which rather spoils the enjoyment. In all though, this is a commendable collection which any fan of Focus will consider to be something of a holy grail.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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