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Focus - Focus II [Aka: Moving Waves] CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.10 | 805 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars " What motive is behind your impulse? The desire to reach upwards "

While the majority of fans, as evidenced by polls and discussions in the Prog Archives forum, will (rightly in my opinion) go for "Hamburger Concerto" as the best Focus album, the view on whether "Moving Waves" (sometimes simply called "Focus 2") or "Focus three" was their next best, tends to be more divided. For me, "Moving waves" takes the plaudits, being far more focused than its rambling and indulgent successor.

While on the face of it, this is simply a follow up to the band's first album "In and out of Focus", the truth is rather more complex. After the release of that album, guitarist Jan Akkerman left the band, forming a new group. Thijs Van Leer retained the Focus name, but when the 2 remaining members of Focus moved on, he joined Akkerman's band, bringing the Focus name with him! The bottom line was that in personnel terms, the core of Van Leer and Akkerman remained intact, with the rhythm section being replaced. The change though was significant as it meant that Akkerman was now the band leader moving the focus (if you will!) from keyboards and flute to guitar.

With "Moving Waves" Focus came close to making a classic album. "Hocus Pocus" is undoubtedly their best known work and the track which introduced many of us to the band when it was released as a single. It is hard to imagine now how original this track was when it was first set loose on an unsuspecting public. The driving guitars, intermittent yodelling and screaming, and sundry sound effects all combine to produce an amazing piece of rock history. The track is not exactly typical of Focus or indeed the album, but every home should have one.

After this, we have four brief tracks to complete the first side of the album. "Le clochard" (the beggar) is a guitar link piece while "Janis" is a beautifully reflective flute driven melody. Although Van Leer is centre stage here, this is an Akkerman composition. The title track is a rare vocal track sung by Thijs who adds his own melody to the words of Inayat Khan.

"Focus II" is a melodic, highly accomplished piece featuring lead guitar with atmospheric organ accompaniment. While there are nuances of jazz and perhaps even classical music in the track, it is firmly rooted in rock. In another ironic twist, while guitar is the dominant instrument here, Van Leer receives the writing credit.

The second side of the album is devoted to the 23 minute "Eruption" in 5 parts, each of which is further divided into two to four sections. This entirely instrumental suite is far tighter than the following "Focus 3" album, with much more in common with the delightful "Hamburger concerto". Various themes come and go, some being developed through improvisation. While Akkerman and Van Leer are the principle writers, they bring in the works of Tom Barlage and Eelke Nobel at different points. The section called "Tommy" for example (which was extracted as a single) has nothing to do with The Who, the name being derived from the name of the composer. Drummer Pierre van der Linden also receives a writing credit for his contribution. In all, the suite works very well, captivating the attention and retaining it throughout. There is no wasted space or stretched out filler in the form of unfocused jazz here (see "Focus 3"); well apart from the superfluous drum solo!

In summary, "Moving waves" is Focus best album after "Hamburger Concerto". Recommended.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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