Focus — Focus X
(FWUS043, 2013, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-07-15
Focus today, ten studio albums and 40+ years on from their 1970 debut, is still very much recognizable as the same band, due to the long term guidance and helmsmanship of keyboardist, flautist, and chief composer Thijs van Leer. He doesn’t sing as much anymore (guest singers join for the one main vocal track, and the spoken parts on the jazzy closer “Crossroads”) and absolutely no yodeling, but his writing is stronger than ever. On board is bassist Bobby Jacobs, who has been with the band for a good dozen years, also serving as producer; drummer Pierre van der Linden, who played with the band on their classic albums Moving Waves, Focus 3, and Live at the Rainbow has been back on board since their last album, New Skin. The newest member is hotshot guitarist Menno Gootjes, the latest in a long succession of carefully selected and versatile guitarists to fill the jazz and rock counterpoint to van Leer’s classicism and funkiness in their sound. The album kicks off with “Father Bacchus,” a seemingly obligatory Gootjes penned re-take on the basic “Hocus Pocus” sound, but from there the disc gets a lot more interesting. “Message Magique” written by Ben van der Linden is a positively beautiful and overtly melodic classical piece with an unforgettable melody. Van Leer’s funky flute work and vocalizing come to the fore on the rocker “All Hens on Deck.” “Amok in Kindergarten” is another standout, offering a warm and melodic rock bridge between jazz and classical worlds, with cooperative piano and guitar work that begs for repeat plays. There are many more excellent works herewithin, and this may well be Focus’ finest album since the band reformed in the mid-90s.
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more