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Focus - Focus Plays Focus [Aka: In and Out of Focus] CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.47 | 355 ratings

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3 stars Historical Information

On 31 March of 1948, a child named Thijs Van Leer is born in Amsterdam. Heavily influenced by his father, who was a classical flautist, he got a flute at the age of 11. He then studied history of art, flute and composition in Amsterdam's University and Conservatorium. He also studied piano, organ and orchestration and took a degree in flute from Geneva Conservatoire. By 1969 he was part of a trio along with Martin Dresden and Hans Cleuver in which they used to do covers of Traffic songs. Later on the same year, Jan Akkerman joins to form Focus. In 1970, they release their first studio album, In And Out Of Focus.

The album

Like Sean Trane has said in his review the vocals aren't so good in this album (compared to later ones) but the music is pretty good actually. The songs are simplier and less complex than later Focus songs. The classical and jazz influence doesn't really appear in this album. On the contrary, there is a more folk tendency. Not only the flute but also the compositions remind me of folk bands. The track 'Anonymous' really reminds me of Jethro Tull. A flute soloing over rythmic guitar riffs. I can also see similarities with Beatles in songs like 'Sugar Island'. The compositions are good and you can tell that the band knows a lot about composition and orchestration. However, while authentic and original, still the compositions seem a bit "cold".

What you can instantly notice while listening to the record is guitarist Jan Akkerman. He varies from sweet to aggressive and plays amazing little phrases when soloing. The maturity he shows is extremly rare for a debut album and he shows what an amazing guitarist he will become. Thijs Van Leer does fine with the compositions and flute but he doesn't show what a talent he really is. Drummer, Hans Cleuver, does a fine job sitting behind the drum kit while Martijn Dresden doesn't take his left hand off the neck of the bass. It's probably the only thing that doesn't let me give 4 stars.

Overall, a really good debut album. Highlights of the album are the memorable 'Black Beauty', the "folkish" Anonymous that shows the bands skills and includes solos from all the band members and the last two tracks, 'Why Dream' and 'Focus' for the beautiful melodies and Akkerman's solos. This album wasn't really appreciated at the time abroad but the time for Focus to be heard all over the world would soon come. If you are new to Focus you could try it cause it's a pleasant album but I would recommend starting with 'III' or 'Moving Waves'

sularetal | 3/5 |


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