The Focus Family Album
Focus Records 2018
Review by David Bowling
Focus was, and sometimes still is, a Dutch progressive rock band who found success in the United States during the first half of the 1970’s. Formed in the late 1960’s by Thijs Van Leer; their early line-up included guitar virtuoso Jan Akkerman. Albums such as Moving Waves (1972), Focus 3 (1971), and Hamburger Concerto (1974) sold several million copies in the United States and produced the quirky hit single “Hocus Pocus.”
The Focus Family Album is a two-disc, 20 track CD that includes 10 tracks by the band and 10 tracks by various current and former members; hence the name of the album.
The group tracks are modern era in origin, originally recorded for several different projects. The represent the band’s current approach and are competent progressive rock.
The solo tracks are more eclectic and experimental. How good they are depends on the listeners ability to stretch their minds.
Individual solos dominate the individual band members contributions. Pierre van der Linden presents two tracks from his experimental Drum Poetry album. Band leader This van Leer donates two flute pieces that run counter to the drum tracks. “Hazel” is an acoustic guitar piece by Menno Gootjes that demonstrates his precise style. Udo Pannekeet brings a unique approach to his bass playing through the use of a fretless bass on “Song For Yaminah” and a six string bass on “Anaya.”
The album is not a cohesive affair. The full band tracks have a finished feel, while the individual pieces find the members experimenting and, in some cases, doodling on their own. In many ways it is the band deconstructed.
The Focus Family Album is a niche release for hard core fans of the band. If you want to experience their full power and creativity, check out their 1970 releases.