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3

Focus

 

Symphonic Prog

3.71 | 298 ratings

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Proghead
Prog Reviewer
3 stars To me, I don't think that "Focus 3" lives up to the greatness of their previous album, "Moving Waves". Here the band witnessed a minor lineup change with bassist Cyriel Haversman replaced by Bert Ruiter (who later joined EARTH & FIRE. He would end up dating that group's vocalist Jerney Kaagman). The American Sire Records LP received a different cover from its European counterpart, with a die-cut cover, and some copies having the rainbow "Focus 3" logo with a rainbow effect. Here the band went for a double album. They originally intended the album to be a single album, but there was enough material to make it a double. But my problem is the band went a bit overboard on some of the cuts. But of course there's still some excellent material too. "Round Goes the Gossip" is the album's only cut with vocals. "Love Remembered" is a Jan Akkerman piece dominated by Thijs van Leer's flute, and some strange electronic effect (a Theramin maybe?). This pretty much a laid-back piece. "Sylvia" was the minor hit on this album, not anywhere as over-the-top as "Hocus Pocus", it's dominated by Akkerman's trademark electric guitar lead, and the few who heard this song on the radio got a better idea how FOCUS was like than "Hocus Pocus" (which, while I thought was a great song, the band themselves thought of it as a joke). "Carnival Fugue" starts off rather jazzy and mellow, but then they repeat this cheery rhythm, complete with organ and flute.

"Focus III" is another demonstration of Akkerman's laid-back use of electric guitar, and the organ parts remind me a bit of PINK FLOYD. I also can't be helped but be reminded of a song EARTH & FIRE recorded for their album, Song of the Marching Children (1971) called "In the Mountains". "Focus III" bears an uncanny resemblance to that song, and I'm sure Akkerman got the idea from EARTH & FIRE (but then the EARTH & FIRE connection with FOCUS, as mentioned came from Bert Ruiter dating Jerney Kaagman, and by the end of the '70s, joining EARTH & FIRE after that band's previous bassist Theo Hurts had left). "Questions? Answers! Answers? Questions!" is another great extended piece with an extended atmospheric passage complete with flute and organ. But here's the piece where I thought the band went overboard: "Anonymous II". They took a piece from "In & Out of Focus" and make it nearly three times longer. This piece often generates in to a big wankfest. There are some nice flute passages from Thijs van Leer, but Bert Ruiter endlessly noodling on his bass for a few minutes before the rest of the band kicks in is going a bit far, in my book. There's also a drum solo about three times longer than IRON BUTTERFLY's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida". Most of this piece is simply an excuse to show off Jan Akkerman's guitar playing. "Eruption" from their previous album ("Moving Waves") works much better because at least it was divided in to suites and allowed the band to work on many different themes and maybe keep some of the excess in tow. The next cut is a wonderful Jan Akkerman piece, "Elsbeth of Nottingham". Here's the band's exploration in to medieval music, complete with lute and recorder. The final cut is "House of the King", one of their finest piece. This piece already appeared on "In & Out of Focus", but for some strange reason they decided to tag that very same song on this album. Probably because the US version of "In & Out of Focus" never featured that song. Regardless, the song bears more than a striking resemblance to JETHRO TULL. Although there's lots of great material on this album, there's some excessive baggage the band needed to cut off. Still recommended, after you get "Moving Waves".

My rating: 3 1/2 stars

Proghead | 3/5 |

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