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Focus - Focus Plays Focus [Aka: In and Out of Focus] CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.49 | 329 ratings

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4 stars A marvelous debut but somewhat short in running lenth at just over 35 minutes. Nevertheless it contains the formula which would put Focus and the Netherlands on the world music map for the next 5 years. Guitarist Jan Akkerman had just given up his previous post in the pop band Brainbox in order to embark on a musical journey which would lead him into more complex territory. He found this in Focus which was a 3 piece house band for the Dutch stage production of the musical "Hair". There is a lot to be said here starting off with the introductory instrumental piece simply entitled Focus. The buildup in this precious work defies the immagination and nothing like it had ever been heard at the time (1970). This is the Akkerman guitar meets the flute and keyboards of Thijs van Leer at it's finest. Akkerman's fine guitar lines set he stage for this dynamic musical demonstration which culminates into a flute freakout which established by an incredible Hammond riff. It almost seems to me that Van Leer did the riff on the organ and picked up his flute and just started going crazy! Akkerman recedes into the background, doing some unbelievable rythms to complement Van Leer's frantic flutism. (Ian Anderson eat your heart out!) The other instrumental showpiece on the album is Anonymous which was done in a more extensive form on Focus III. This reviewer prefers this original more compact version. All four players are permitted to show off on this one. A classical theme is stated and the individual musicians successfully acquit themselves in the form of solos. A display of the talent pssessed by this remarkable band. Marjtin Dresden's bass slot is one of the most impressive prog bas solos ever committed to record. He can certainly be compared to the likes of Squire and wetton! Let's move on to other aspects of the record. House of the King shows off guitarist Akkerman's compositional abilities. He allows Van Leer to create the theme on his flute while maintaining a solid rythm harmony on acoustic guitar. (another version of this can be heard on Akkerman's solo album Tabernakel which is available in CD form through Wounded Bird Records sans flute). Sugar Island is another example of this simply incredible acoustic guitar/flute interaction only with vocals from Thijs. Other tracks contain thoughtful lyrics and vocals from Van Leer and this reviewer wishes the band could have done more of this on subsequent works. The combination of short vocal tracks and rather long instrumentals work very well. Definitely go for this, the first Focus lineup. A great record which I never tire of. No problem, 4 stars. Classic Dutch rock.
Vibrationbaby | 4/5 |


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