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Jan Akkerman - Jan Akkerman CD (album) cover


Jan Akkerman


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.79 | 65 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars I have recently been getting back into Prog, and this week, relistening to my considerable Jan Akkerman collection. This eponymous LP is simply blowing me away. I remember when I received it as a radio promo copy in 1977 how much I loved it, especially Side 1 with Crackers, Angel Watch, and Pavane. But now, Side 2-the whole thing is just boggling my mind. The musicianship is extraordinary, even the Michael Gibbs orchestrations add such a lush, collegial atmosphere to Jan's unparalleled virtuosity. Since listening to all of my Focus discs, Eli, Tabernakel, and now this, I am prepared to dethrone John McLaughlin and proclaim Jan Akkerman as my favorite/the best guitarist ever! Akkerman can play! He can do it all: acoustic, lute, sitar, rhythm, jazz, New Age, blues, and, of course, Rock and Roll! And this album is so well recorded! Kudos to Richard DeBois and Jan Schuurman. Were it not for the dated disco-ish rhythms and now-outdated keyboards, this would be a classic for the ages! Still, I can think of no other set of recordings that better displays Akkerman's virtuosity as a guitar player. Great emotion, amazing versatility in his stylistic approaches, literally unbelievable ease and fluidity of fingering and timing (stops, pauses and transitions). The variety of ways he can express himself within the framework of one song is astounding, mind boggling.

Let's start with Side 2:

"Streetwalker" [10/10] has got to be one the ten greatest electric guitar songs ever recorded. Subtle accompaniment (though listen to those drums!) allow Jan to display his rhythm virtuosity before, between and while (!) diving into several extraordinarily diverse lead techniques in his solos. The timing and emotion are extraordinary-even that of the orchestra! What a composition!

The rhythm/strumming work in "Skydancer" [7/10] is mesmerizing, though the song lacks a hook to really bring the listener into the song.

"Floatin'" [6/10] notes a reunion with Pierre van der Linden, friend and drummer extraordinaire from Brainbox and Focus days. (Jazz-Fusion drummer Bruno Castelucci performs batterie on all other songs.) The song only makes one one realize A) how much beyond the Focus era Jan already has traveled, B) just how good Bruno Castelucci is, C) just how Rock and Roll-oriented Pierre is, and D) just how much a better fit Bruno Castelucci is for this period of Jan's career. The opening melody lines are interesting for their StanleyClarke/"piccolo bass" sounds. Nice keyboard work from Joachim Kühn.

The album's last song, "Gate to Europe" [ 6/10] is a minor-keyed work on the acoustic guitar with orchestral accompaniment somewhat prescient of the Claus Ogerman sessions (which are beautiful in their own right, though they display Jan on his electric guitar).

Now to Side 1:

"Crackers" [7/10] is a very catchy disco-sounding song with more subtle, almost background lead guitar work. Good keyboard passages.

"Angel watch" [9/10] is a lushly orchestrated ten minute song in which the drums compete with, yet embellish and accent Jan's extraordinary work in first section (about three minutes). The second disco-fied section allows the bass some ascendancy while Jan's treated guitar spits and stutters just before a section of muffled Wes-Montgomery-like chord playing. The disco heats up as Joachim Kühn sounds Don Pullen-like on an acoustic-yes, acoustic-piano solo-which only gets Jan riled up as he takes over: flaming the jazz artists to cinders with a flashy (though strangely soul-less) foray into speed for speed's sake. Song fades. Wow. What a strange ensemble piece.

Side 1 ends with the gorgeous, etheric (not unlike some of Jean-Luc Ponty's work around this time) "Pavane" [10/10] The swirling keys accompanying Jan's chorus statement are too cool! Treated guitar effects not unfamiliar to the later Focus days, strumming not unlike the amazing Eli work, Jan is all over the fretboard and time-space continuum with this one.

The album rates a 7.86 out of 10 =a solid 4.0, which means: excellent though not essential. But hearing it may be essential for any prog fan.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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