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Focus - 3 CD (album) cover

3

Focus

 

Symphonic Prog

3.79 | 508 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 'Focus III' is IMHO Focus' top achievement. Not only do these guys deliver some of their most inspired playing, but also manage to work as a unit with a level of compenetration that hides the ongoing rivality between van Leer and Akkerman (sometimes, a not so healthy one). Akkerman continues to explore new sources of introspective music ('Love Remembered') and mediaeval tradition ('Elspeth of Nottingham'), while keeping his ability to turn his guitar on fire with a polished skill beyond words, in the hardest passages: he really shines in 'Answers Questions' and 'Anonymus II', and his Hammond layers on 'Focus III' create an awesome background for Akkerman's guitar leads. Van Leer is also in a state of "business as usual", displaying his mastery on both on keyboards (mostly Hammond organ) and flute, and also some burlesque vocals. The interplays between van Leer and Akkerman in the opening track are breathtaking, executed with energy and a touch of sheer class. Drummer extraordinaire Van der Linden feels at home here: only one yar had passed since he entered the band, yet his drumming had become an essential feature of Focus' musical essence. When the excellent bassist Bert Ruiter made his entry into the ranks of Holland's masterband Focus, the rhythm section achieved its highest level of strength and sophistication; Ruiter proved to be the perfect complement to van der Linden's top-notch drumming style so far,... and may I add that this is a difficult task, since van der Linden enjoys stretching out his role to the point of becoming fundamental for the band's melodic aspect, with his constant tricky rolling. Ruiter's penchant for jazz and funky definitely allowed Focus to keep their own focus on their jazz leaning: the amazing 27-minute 'Anonymus II' only shows you how enthusiastic and frenzy the foursome were about it (a special mention goes to van der Linden's tribal oriented drum solo). The same thing could be noticed on 'Questions Answers'. The lighter side of the album is present in the latin-jazz/bossanova tinged 'Carnival Fugue' and the catchy 'Sylvia' (a top ten single in the UK, actually), two attractive numbers that serve as relaxing motifs, among a repertoire that tends to sound really aggressive (though not heavy, remember, the jazz factor is predominant here). This is the second of a series of three albums that are a testimony of both Focus' and the prog genre's finest hour. An essential masterpiece!

P.D.: Well, I don't like the inclusion of 'House of the King' here. It belongs more properly in its original album 'In and Out of Focus'. The tour-de-force 'Anonymus II' would make the perfect closure to 'Focus III'.

Cesar Inca | 5/5 |

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