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Focus - 3 CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.79 | 508 ratings

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The Quiet One
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Focused on Jams? Jams!

Focus, the only band from my native-country that I really like, but that's just because I don't know much about the music of The Netherlands. Their third offering entitled simply as '3', released in 1973, is surely my favorite album of theirs being the perfect blend of 70s rock at its peak with prog sensibilities.

While most Symphonic Prog bands from the 70s that didn't belong to the U.K. were considered rather derivative, the Italian scene plus Focus, and a couple of other notable groups, demonstrated to be inspired by the U.K. bands but to have their own unique approach. There's said to be similarities with ELP, but Thijs van Leer wasn't a heavy Moog user and his Hammond-Organ playing was more subtle and jazzy, somewhat like Peter Bardens from Camel. Focus does show some Genesis and Tull approaches sporadically, mainly due to the flute and organ, but if you take a look to the big picture, this Dutch band was really playing their own kind of Prog Rock influenced by Classical, Blues Rock and Jazz Rock, the latter being the main difference between the classic U.K. Prog Rock bands. If there's one band that I would relate with Focus is Camel, but that's only because the jazz element on both, though in times, in the softer songs both bands sound alike in a good way.

The band mainly plays in a very rocking way through this album, notable proof is the 26 minute mind-blowing jam called 'Anonymous II', where Jan Akkerman, a splendid guitarist, delivers heavy riffs in an original way unlike anything by Blackmore, Page or Iommi, while Thijs screams out a blasting flute solo and later on a powerful, inspired organ solo. There's even space for a groovy bass solo, something that Squire or Rutherford wouldn't do. The jam later evolves into the hard rock-powder of Hocus Pocus with a drum section and a fantastic guitar solo.

'Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers!' is a similar affair, just a bit jazzier. The rest of the album though, is more related to the classic Focus style with lovely or energetic short tunes, mostly prog-related stuff with touches of either classical ('Carnival Fugue'), jazz or blues, highlights being Jan's guitar or Thijs' flute, both deliver emotional melodies and solos.

So why is '3' my favorite Focus record? Well, I simply love both of the long jams and the rest of the album is as good as the gentle tunes from Moving Waves. Though less Progressive since there's no ''Prog epic'', '3' is by far the album I get more enjoyment from this band. This is not Focus's strongest album in composition terms though, that'd be Moving Waves or Hamburger Concerto.

4 stars: excellent prog rock record with focus on two long jams which may not be every Prog fans cup-of-tea, but for me those are the best part of this album. Highly recommended if you are someone who likes a varied Prog Rock record with emphasis on the rock part. If you're looking for the ''Symphonic'' Focus, check both Hamburger Concerto and Moving Waves first.

The Quiet One | 4/5 |


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