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Focus - Focus II [Aka: Moving Waves] CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.09 | 692 ratings

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3 stars FOCUS' first album, "IN and Out of Focus", proved to be somewhat of an anomaly, for better and for worse. On "Moving Waves", they developed their signature sound that would endure to varying degrees through the next half decade or so. They incorporated a few of the song oriented styles of their debut, but also began their investment in often tediously and artificially lengthy opuses,

The major triumph is of course "Hocus Pocus", an inimitable song that unfortunately defined the group even while it barred the path for further exploration in its singular domain. But Side 1 of the original LP contains some of the group's most symphonic tracks and seems furthest away from the fun-loving but irritating funk and fusion of subsequent efforts. For instance, the group seemed to be blazing a new symphonic trail on "Le Clochard", strummed acoustic guitars washed in mellotrons and a sumptuous melody all economically espoused in under 2 minutes. "Janis" and "Focus II" tout the virtues of simple yet decidedly progressive themes.

It is unfortunate, then, that Side 2 takes less captivating melodies and abrupt clashes of styles and expands them out to 23 minutes, as if nothing had been learned in the first half. Progressive fans may well drool at the prospect of "Eruption", and it is true that this obligatory side long epic formed the focus for future explorations, but it also marked a choice that has relegated the group to also ran status, and best known simply because, like so few others, they hailed from Holland. Sure, Akkerman had the chops and Van Leer was the demure one, yodels notwithstanding, and all couples need to play off each other, but, in yogic terms, "Eruption" had too much pitta and not enough vata. This was the group's Achilles heel.

Probably the best FOCUS original album, amongst decidedly middling company, "Moving Waves" could have stood atop the crest of prog were it not weighted down by poor moves and/or insufficient inspiration.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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