Exposé Online banner

Focus — Focus 9 / New Skin
(Red Bullet RB 66.253, 2006, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2008-01-01

Focus 9 / New Skin Cover art

After an initial stab at a return to action with 2002's Focus 8, Thijs van Leer is back with an almost totally new lineup that's sounding better than ever. That is, if your tastes for this Dutch outfit favor the classic early 70s sound of albums like Moving Waves or 3. Also returning to the fold is original drummer Pierre van der Linden, along with newcomer guitarist Niels van der Steenhoven (bassist Bobby Jacobs is still on board). Nobody can ever replace the great Jan Akkerman, though I find van der Steenhoven to be an excellent pick for the job. He easily moves from biting rock, Beck-like melodic leads, Metheney-esque jazz, plus elegant or folky acoustic work. Of course the other half of Focus' signature sound is Thijs van Leer who sounds like he just stepped out of the 1973 time machine. His Hammond playing has that great 70s warmth and his flute work easily encompasses classical elegance and Tull's folk-rock cheer. Nods to Focus of yesterday abound on this disk, including "Aya-Yuppie-Hippie-Yee" that recalls "Hocus Pocus" complete with cartoon-y vocalizations plus the not subtly titled "Sylvia's Stepson — Ubatuba." Standout tracks include the gorgeous opener "Black Beauty," the laid-back jazz rock ballad "Just Like Eddy," featuring an excellent vocal from Jo De Roeck, and the multi-faceted and extravagant "European Rap(sody)," that clocks in at over 10 minutes. I can't really find anything negative to say about this album. Let's hope it's the start of many more to come.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 35, 2006 releases

Related artist(s): Focus, Thijs van Leer

Latest news

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Basilwink - Bipolar Bliss – Basilwink is a Milwaukee based project featuring Jeff Marcus (guitars, keyboards, bass, engineering), and Jim Bloedel (percussion, keyboards, loops and effects), and the disc at hand is their fourth...  (2009) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues