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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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Prog Metal Team
4 stars The debut album from the classic Dutch band Focus is not exactly what fans of their later albums would expect it to be and it did take me by a surprise the first time I heard it. Today, I must admit that it's one of my favorite Focus albums!

The biggest difference with this release is that the majority of the album is dominated by Thijs van Leer's very lean vocal performance that sounds nothing like his later more sporadic occasional performances. The combination of his vocals and the mellow music arrangements almost remind me of the classic Spaghetti Western soundtracks by Ennio Morricone. Just listen to the opening track Focus (vocal) or Happy Nightmare (Mescaline) and you'll see what I mean! Jan Akkerman, on the other hand, seems at first like nowhere to be found and it takes three songs into the album for us to recognize his otherwise very distinguishable lead guitar sound.

It's not until the album's fourth track, Anonymus, that we finally can clearly hear the collective that brought us such classics as Hocus Pocus, Harem Scarem and the Focus song trilogy, one of which is coming right at the end of this record. Most of the shorter vocal arranged tracks are very enjoyable and might actually work as a great introduction to the band. I say this because it took me quite some time to get into Focus when I originally picked up Moving Waves and Focus 3 as my introduction.

Even though my initial uncertainty towards this release, I'm happy to say that it didn't take me long to begin enjoying the record. Yes, the music does get a bit commercial at times and the jam sections just aren't as grand as they would get later on but Focus was never really a perfect band. I consider the album Focus 3 to be their most progressive effort but I wouldn't exactly argue with people who consider it a bit too excessive. In that regard, In And Out Of Focus is actually one of the few occasions where the band did strike a nice balance of a sort, even though it's clearly not to everyone's liking.

***** star songs: Anonymous (6:33) House Of The King (2:51) Why Dream (3:58)

**** star songs: Focus (vocal) (2:44) Black Beauty (3:08) Sugar Island (3:05) Happy Nightmare (Mescaline) (3:59) Focus (Instrumental) (9:44)

Rune2000 | 4/5 |


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