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Focus - Focus Con Proby CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.53 | 109 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Focus' last living outburst (recorded anyway) in the 70's is this strange collab between a now-almost comatosed Focus and this English singer PJ Proby (a one-hit wonder from the 60's) and unlike what was to be feared, this album is not as bad as you'd have believed. The responsible for this is Akkerman's replacement Phillip Catherine has a major blast and more than fills Jan's shoes. As for Proby, he's got a voice that no other Focus member ever had, so it's not surprising to see that Focus has become a singing group, Proby's vocals singing Mrs Van Leer's lyrics.

With only Ruiter and Van Leer from the classic quartet, the Belgian guitarist is actually the saviour of this album as he does not only shine n the opening Wingless, but steels the show on the instrumentals grandiose and pastoral Orion and demented Night Flight. If the opening Wingless was a good track, the slow-paced ballad Eddy is certainly not of the same calibre, although you can't fault neither Focus or Proby, but the project itself and their association. With the superb Catherine-penned Sneezing Bull, Focus returns to their third instrumental and probably the album's apex, as one thinks of RTF or Mahavishnu. It's somehow surprising to see how Catherine has even more space than Akkerman was allowed in Focus's prime, but I'd advance two factor's: Catherine's style allowed a different type of jazz-)rock, where Van Leer was less dominant and proficient than in the pseudo symphonic style, the other factor probably being jealous competitiveness of Jan & Thys.

The flipside starts on the piano-dominated Brother, maybe the album's best sung track, where Proby shows a great range to accompany Catherine and Van Leer where they'd intended to. Tokyo Rose is a mixed bag, an interesting idea (penned by Mrs van Leer alone), but not carried on fully, this might have sat on a Queen, Roxy or Sparks album no problem.. On a Focus album???? Why not?? Hocus Pocus or Harem Scarem... The almost 9-mins Maxcimum is the only instrumental on this side, written by Bert and Thys, and is a fine but predictable late 70's fusion piece, not up to par with the three on the A-side. How long is a forgettable good bye to which we can say "until 02". Weakest track with Eddy.

Certainly more appreciable than mother focus, a tad better than the bottom-of-drtawer compilation Ship of Memories, Con Proby is not that bad a swansong (actually a fairly good one), but it was a timely swansong.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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