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Focus - Jan Akkerman & Thijs Van Leer: Focus CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.46 | 84 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
3 stars Different from the Focus albums proper, this reunion of its two leading men is more of a jazzy affair with elements of period new age and even a bit of minimalism, making it generally light, mellow, and slick compared to the original band. The drum programming could be a bit more imaginative but I suppose Mr Akkerman had other fish to fry, and generally he and Mr Van Leer seem to meet their objectives.

"King Kong" and "Tango" both represent the general sound of the album well, an insistent motif with a small but notable degree of improvisation around it. The flutes on "King Kong" are especially noteworthy. While "Indian Summer" does contain synths in a typically 1980s smooth jazz style, it is blended with woodwinds rather deftly. Now, "Beethoven's Revenge" is the epic of the album if you can call it that, but it is really more of an extended jam where Akkerman takes his turn to shine, as does Ustad Zamir Ahmad Khan on tablas. Note that my review is based on the LP and that the version there is only 10 minutes, which is probably a good thing. "Ole Judy" is one of the more fun numbers, with a slightly Latin flavour bolstered by some of Akkerman's best licks on the disk, as well as more flute from Van Leer. My version of "Who's Calling" is also abbreviated from the CD, only 7 odd minutes of generally toned down atmospheres in which the two principles trade off but no one seems to take charge.

I can only give a guarded recommendation to prog fans because of the general softness of the material and the tendency for Akkerman to stay on a leash through most of the album. Even from my perspective as a lover of softer prog, this one veers a bit too close to new age for a higher recommendation. Nonetheless, I admire the focus of these two gifted musicians to pull together and produce a work of good value during a decade generally bereft of it.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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