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FOCUS CON PROBY

Focus

Symphonic Prog


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andretecno@ig
3 stars A mediane album of Focus. The voyce of P.J. Proby sounds sometimes a little exagerate in the entonation. The arrangements are moving to rock to the Jazz fusion, and sometimes are in a virtuosi style.For collectors.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#22953)
Posted Friday, January 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars Although featuring exceptional musicians one has to wonder what was going through Thijs van Leer`s brain when he recruited PJ Proby for this mother of all musical mismatches. Thijs van Leer`s classical influence just didn`t blend with the jazz minded Philip Catherine and Eef Albers. Ex- Journey drummer Steve Smith and bassist Bert Ruiter were just along for the ride on this one. Smith went on to form the excellent fusion band Vital Information with Albers joning in on a later album.

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Send comments to Vibrationbaby (BETA) | Report this review (#22954)
Posted Thursday, March 04, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars P. J. Proby was not a perfect choice to Focus, nor were guitarists Eef Albers and Philip Catherine. The result? A rather confusing album, without Focus's classical experiences and jazz-rock oriented. But there are some songs which deserves better attention: "Sneezing Bull" and "Maximum", both available at "Focus Live at the BBC", which documents a concert in 1976, with a transitional line-up (David Kemper was sitting at the drum stool, Eef Albers was yet to join and there was no P. J. Proby) - and on this album, these songs really shine. P. J. Proby is guilty of exaggeration, like Chris Farlowe in some recordings, and he didn't aggregate much to Focus' sound. A sad way to end a brilliant career.

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Send comments to M. B. Zapelini (BETA) | Report this review (#22955)
Posted Thursday, April 07, 2005 | Review Permalink
l.thomas@bigp
5 stars I think that P.J. Proby did a wonderful job of the vocals, especially when you realise that the musical backings were so far from his usual backings. Heck, this is Prog Rock, I fail to see how and other famous 60's Legend could begin to fit into the mould as well as P.J. did. It's an ABSOLUTE CREDIT to P.J's vocal abilities, and I feel that he was the right choice for Focus. He added the right kind of spice that they needed to sound good. I take my hat off to the man. P.J. you did excellent work and my favoutites are "Brother" & "Tokyo Rose."

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#65274)
Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars So Akkerman is out of the band, and Thjis van Leer decides to continue putting out music under the Focus moniker (although Bert Ruiter still does play bass here, so maybe it's legitimate). Besides getting the soul "superstar" P.J. Proby on vocals, Thjis also employed Steve Smith on drums, who is today considered to be a world class jazz player, and two excellent guitarists Eef Albers and Philip Catherine, so if this album is lacking in anything it is not in musicianship! The first track is kind of soul tune, with some ace guitar soloing by Eef Albers, it's just too bad that P.J. disrupts the playing with his singing (not that he is a bad singer, it's just that he distracts the great part of the tune). The rest of the album continues in the same fashion for the most part. Gone are the romantic and medieval-inspired days of Focus, there is not much classical influence to be found here, except the piano driven Brother which is quite a trip into past (and future - they would remake this as an instrumental on Focus 8). If you enjoy fusion pyrotechnics then "Night Flight" will be a treat for you, being an explosive jam beetween Albers, Smith and van Leer. Don't listen to "How Long" unless you like straightforward disco grooves! Overall, it's a good improvement from "Mother Focus", but really only for fans.

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Send comments to Salviaal (BETA) | Report this review (#128034)
Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars A cataclysm took place for the release of this album. The great Jan Akkerman has gone. Of course, another great guitarist is hired and this guy is really gifted. I guess that the fully jazz-orientation of this album has something to do with Philip Catherine's presence.

What to say about the vocalist they have hired for this project ? Well, you'll have to figure out that this guy recorded an album in 68 with Bonham, Jones & Page. Here's what he said about this recording : "Came the last day and we found we had some studio time, so I just asked the band to play while I just came up with the words. ... They weren't Led Zeppelin at the time, they were the New Yardbirds and they were going to be my band". I'm bloody glad that we got Plant instead !

His tone of voice reminds the one of the Santana singer Gregg Walker or Alex Ligertwood (I could never stand any of them really).

When you mix the great guitar work featured on this album, with these vocals and you add the deep jazz influences; you are almost in the territories of Santana's jazzy period. But you won't have any great percussion nor such good composition as you can find on "Welcome" for instance.

Obviously, the only bearable tracks are the ones during which P.J. Proby just look at the band while shutting up.

"Orion" is a slow song which features a great guitar work. It is by far my favourite song. The listener can find some average music as well while "Night Flight" and "Sneezing Bull" are performed (but these two are 100% jazz oriented). But the long and improv style of "Maximum" is rather uninteresting and dull although musicianship is high.

Now, in terms of sung tracks, I really can't find one single average one. "Eddy" is a poor illustration of a Proby combination with "Focus" (if we can call this "Focus") while "Brother" is a syrupous and croony ballad (although the last part of the song gets better). I knew already that "Focus" had a great sense of humour but to finish "Tokyo Rose" with these words is just hilarous : "There is no sense for me to expand any further" !!! I bet you !

I guess that it is the same great sense of humour that drove "Focus" when they will look for a title for the closing number : "How Long". Well, that's precisely the question you will ask yourself when it starts. How long will it last ? Just run away.

It is their worse album so far. Of course, if you are into jazz-rock, your opinion will probably differ. But the "Focus" I like is the symphonic one, not the jazzy one.

One star.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#135207)
Posted Tuesday, August 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Actually, Focus Con Proby could have been considered a fairly good soft jazz-rock album, if only... it had not bear the name FOCUS!

And if certain P.J. Proby had not sung.

The absence of Jan Akkerman could have been a disaster, perhaps even worse than already witnessed with Mother Focus, but it was not. New guitarists did a nice job introducing jazz elements and improvisation style, while Thijs van Leer provided several nice flute soli in line with his earlier classic works.

Unfortunately, Proby's sweet soul crooner-type voice a la Billy Ocean spoiled the vocal tracks and put this album close to the low points of Mother Focus. Close but still not that low...

PERSONAL RATING: 2/5

P.A. RATING: 2/5

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#164446)
Posted Thursday, March 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Having considered Focus as instrumental prog band, "Focus Con Proby" proves that the band could make excellent music with vocal line too. In this album Focus collaborate with American singer PJ Proby who has vocal characteristic that suits Focus music (my taste). In so far, most reviewers have given less than four stars but I really believe that this album deserves a full four-star rating. Look at the performance of Proby on the opening track "Wingless" (5:35) where he did a great job putting his vocal line in the song. Not only that, the guitar work by Eef Albers is really stunning and it becomes one of critical attraction towards this masterpiece track. Everything sounds to work perfectly on this opening track. The third track "Night Flight" is another masterpiece track with wonderful, brilliant, and stunning guitar work augmented by dynamic basslines and dazzling drumwork. This track is one of my favorite tracks from Focus. The tempo of the music is fast, the energy and hard drive are all there in the music. Those who love jazz rock would definitely love this track.

"Eddy" (5:54) is a great bluesy track with excellent guitar work. Proby sings nicely here. "Sneezing Bull" (4:27) is another energetic and excellent track with evocative flute work that becomes key attraction of this track. It reminds me to early Focus albums but this time has intense flavors of jazz-rock. "Brother" (5:19) is a mellow track that provides excellent break in the album. "Tokyo Rose" (5:08) starts nicely with soft flutework augmented with soft piano work. The song suddenly moves to energetic style with great narration by Proby. It's a very interesting track that I enjoy listening to it. "Maximum" (8:40) brings the album into jazz-rock fusion work with excellent bass guitar work. Guitar plays stunningly combined with nice piano work. It's really an excellent track. The concluding track "How Long" (5:16) showcases excellent combination of keyboard / piano with other instruments.

Overall, I rate this album highly because the music is quite unique in style and it's also different from any other Focus album. The key attractions with the music include its tight composition, good collaborative work of musicians involved in this project. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#185109)
Posted Thursday, October 09, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars Focus' last living outburst (recorded anyway) in the 70's is this strange collab between a now-almost comatosed Focus and this English singer PJ Proby (a one-hit wonder from the 60's) and unlike what was to be feared, this album is not as bad as you'd have believed. The responsible for this is Akkerman's replacement Phillip Catherine has a major blast and more than fills Jan's shoes. As for Proby, he's got a voice that no other Focus member ever had, so it's not surprising to see that Focus has become a singing group, Proby's vocals singing Mrs Van Leer's lyrics.

With only Ruiter and Van Leer from the classic quartet, the Belgian guitarist is actually the saviour of this album as he does not only shine n the opening Wingless, but steels the show on the instrumentals grandiose and pastoral Orion and demented Night Flight. If the opening Wingless was a good track, the slow-paced ballad Eddy is certainly not of the same calibre, although you can't fault neither Focus or Proby, but the project itself and their association. With the superb Catherine-penned Sneezing Bull, Focus returns to their third instrumental and probably the album's apex, as one thinks of RTF or Mahavishnu. It's somehow surprising to see how Catherine has even more space than Akkerman was allowed in Focus's prime, but I'd advance two factor's: Catherine's style allowed a different type of jazz-)rock, where Van Leer was less dominant and proficient than in the pseudo symphonic style, the other factor probably being jealous competitiveness of Jan & Thys.

The flipside starts on the piano-dominated Brother, maybe the album's best sung track, where Proby shows a great range to accompany Catherine and Van Leer where they'd intended to. Tokyo Rose is a mixed bag, an interesting idea (penned by Mrs van Leer alone), but not carried on fully, this might have sat on a Queen, Roxy or Sparks album no problem.. On a Focus album???? Why not?? Hocus Pocus or Harem Scarem... The almost 9-mins Maxcimum is the only instrumental on this side, written by Bert and Thys, and is a fine but predictable late 70's fusion piece, not up to par with the three on the A-side. How long is a forgettable good bye to which we can say "until 02". Weakest track with Eddy.

Certainly more appreciable than mother focus, a tad better than the bottom-of-drtawer compilation Ship of Memories, Con Proby is not that bad a swansong (actually a fairly good one), but it was a timely swansong.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#204171)
Posted Tuesday, February 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
2 stars I have to say that when I first heard this album, I though that this will be one of these high rated Focus albums that I'm aware of. But nope, this should be rather disappointment. Note the word, should, because I don't feel it. I even like this more than some of theirs that are considered as classics.

Strange, really strange, but these melodic rhythms combined with jazz elements (which are very interestingly performed, in this combination). Vocals fits me too, maybe because I don't know much their other work. For me, it's masterpiece, but maybe later I'll reconsider my rating. As I feel it now, after just few listens, I'm about to give

4(+) for wonderful and (funny, obvious part) underrated album. But some things really brings it down, like some pop-like rhythms. And also, decade is almost over and it can be heard.

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#255536)
Posted Thursday, December 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
2 stars I much prefer Focus sin Proby

When contemplating the pros and cons of this 1978 album, it quickly becomes very clear that Proby is indeed one of the major cons. P.J. Proby's smooth and soulful vocals mix with the music of Focus like oil mixes with water. Bringing Proby on board was a mistake. However, despite the absence of Jan Akkerman, there are also pros: the instrumental parts are still 100% Focus(ed) and bear the band's characteristic sound. Indeed, the instrumental tracks and passages found here are very much more interesting and enjoyable than what was present on the previous two Focus releases--Mother Focus and Ship Of Memories.

The instrumental tracks are Orion, Night Flight, Sneezing Bull, and Maximum. These tunes bring to mind Camel and Jethro Tull but most of all classic Focus. This adds up to around 20 minutes of quality music that undoubtedly will appeal to those who like the first four Focus albums. But on the vocal tracks, Focus takes a back seat and becomes the backing band for P.J. Proby and, as I have said, these tracks are considerably less interesting. These bluesy, soulful, jazzy numbers are plodders, and of course they have nothing to do with Prog.

As such, this album is a very mixed bag. It has some strong moments that makes it worthwhile for any Focus fan, but taking everything into consideration it does not stand up to the better Focus albums.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#1052972)
Posted Friday, October 04, 2013 | Review Permalink

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