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Focus - 3 CD (album) cover

3

Focus

 

Symphonic Prog

3.73 | 319 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars "Focus 3" is the third album for these wonderful symphonic instrumentalists, and it is quite an ambient relaxing journey apart from the odd outburst in the first half. The double vinyl album was the first time I heard it at a friend's house, and I was not all that impressed initially. It tended to drag on with some tracks going on too long for their own good, but this grew on me and I consider it a masterful album these days. It really is a headphone album, not something to throw on and have going in the background. Highlights include the pipe whistle exploration of Carnival Fugue, and I love the opener with Thijs crazy vocal intonations, Round Goes the Gossip, one of the best Focus tracks. The epic at the end is an incredibly complex composition and one of the best from Focus.

The musicians here are the best Focus lineup I believe, the amazing Jan Akkerman on solo & acoustic guitars, Bert Ruiter on bass, the incredible percussion of Pierre van der Linden, and of course the visionary extraordinaire Thijs van Leer on vocals, organ, piano, alto flute, piccolo, and harpsichord.

Some tracks are very subdued and merely prepare us for the epic to come. Focus III is peaceful and relaxing definitely; the band were capable of some stunning beauty in their compositions. Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers! (a title that reminds me of Giraffes? Giraffes!) is a 14 minute journey, composed by Akkerman and Ruiter, with a ton of happy Hammond, a rollicking tempo and some great Akkerman guitar passages. It kind of has a Santana flavour, and then it settles into lovely ambience with flute and a dreamy tempo. Then Akkerman cuts loose on some vivacious guitar work. Again after this flows along gently and Akkerman has one more guitar outlet. This is definitely the highlight track of the album thus far.

Side 3 features Anonymous Two (Part 1) and it is continued on Side 4. This long epic gives Thijs a chance to go mad on flute and he is absolutely incredible, on these faster tracks. He would have to be one of the best flute players along with Mr Anderson. You can even hear his vocals as he blows similar to the style of Jethro Tull. Next there is a barrage of Hammond blasting as good as you are likely to hear. It even has a bit of the Hocus Pocus melody hidden in there. Then it settles into a very serene passage with an extended bass solo by Ruiter. It goes for a while with an improvised feel, then the guitars return and that shimmering Hammond. Akkerman unleashes fury on his axe jamming along boldly along the fast paced signature. It ends with a huge drum solo from virtuoso Pierre, and then it ends with a quirky melody. Another definitive highlight and Focus at their absolute best.

Finally we have Elspeth Of Nottingham that is Elizabethan Medieval flavoured, something they return to often, and it ends with House Of The King. It kind of fits neatly onto one CD but the vinyl release is my preference as it is well packaged and a product of the 70s.

It is one of the best albums from Focus with some of their brightest moments with the epic track and the Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers!; so dynamic. The band were experimenting with many styles and here on this album they are at their most symphonic and experimental before the jazz influences came in. I think 4 stars are deserved as this is definitely one of the best I have heard and is the most consistent album out of all the Focus albums I have heard.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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