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Focus - Mother Focus CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.75 | 246 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Look out for the steam iron, Marylin!

Following up their finest hour "Hamburger concerto" was always going to be a major challenge for Focus. To their credit, the band decided not to attempt to make "HC2", but completely changed their approach; thus we have an album of no fewer than 12 disparate short tracks. Things were less than rosy in the Focus camp by this time, "Mother focus" being the last by the band to feature both of their main protagonists (Akkerman and Van leer) together. A further album would appear ("Ship of memories"), but this was a collection of unreleased material similar to Led Zeppelin's "Coda".

Interestingly, a significant number of the compositions here are by bassist Bert Ruiter; were Akkerman and Van Leer holding back material, aware of the impending band implosion, or had they simply run our of ideas?

Things begin in a fairly conventional Focus way with the title track, Akkerman's acoustic guitar soon giving way to a burst on lead. Van Leer adds some yodels and other vocalising and provides backing in the form of the now ubiquitous polyphonic synthesiser. Things take an immediate dip though with Bert Ruiter's "I need a bathroom", his repeated singing of the title causing significant empathy on the part of the listener.

Van Leer's "Bennie Helder" is a "Sylvia" like pop number with a pleasant melody, the lead guitar of Akkerman coming in briefly towards the end of the track. Ruitar then takes over the writing for the remaining three tracks on side one. "Soft vanilla" is straightforward piece of lounge jazz. It is immediately followed by "Hard vanilla", a funky rendition of the same melody. "Tropic bird" reverts to the smooth "Soft vanilla" style, Ruiter's bass being the lead instrument.

The second side opens with Van Leer's "Focus IV", the longest track on the album at a shade under 4 minutes. The "Focus" title for the track brings with it certain expectations, and it is certainly the closest we get to a proper lead guitar solo by Akkerman. The track is a bit too light but it is arguably the best of the bunch on the album, with fine flute, guitar and keyboards. It is however necessary to overlook some superfluous bursts of funky synth towards the end.

Jan Akkerman's main writing contribution is a pair of consecutive laid back numbers. While they are pleasantly soothing, do not approach them expecting the dynamics of his contributions to previous albums. The second, "All together.. oh that" has a distinctly country flavour emphasised through the twanging guitar. Band comrade Paul Stoppelman writes "No hang ups", a track which seems to gel the band together better than any other here. Akkerman's guitar has its familiar ring, and Van Leer supports him with some fine organ work. Unfortunately it fades several minutes too early. "My sweetheart" is another enjoyable but disposable light pop number. The album concludes with "Father Bach" (the title continues the punning of the title piece), an arrangement of a classical theme by Van Leer.

In all, not a bad album by any means, but there again do not approach "Mother focus" expecting to hear a lot of similarities with previous albums by the band. This is very much a Focus lite album.

The sleeve is a bizarre image of a fighting ship firing a cross shaped laser at a steam iron which is about to land on a naked Marylyn Monroe like figure!

Easy Livin | 2/5 |


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