Focus — Focus 8
(Musea FGBG 4472.AR, 2002, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2003-08-01
Leave it to Thijs Van Leer to recognize the timely need for Focus to return to active duty. Within the past three years he encountered a Focus tribute act in his Dutch homeland and was so impressed he decided to append himself onto their stage show. That in itself is a testament to their credibility. While sadly Jan Akkerman is not part of this line-up, clearly guitarist Jan Dumée handles the job quite well (and that’s saying a lot). His melodic leads are appropriately in the mode of his countryman without being derivative. Van Leer’s own chops are still intact as evidenced by his fine flute playing on Dumée’s piece, “Tamara’s Move.” This song and several others retain that key classical element of the original incarnation of the group. “Hurkey Turkey” is another in a series of goofily named tracks that show off the new members of the group; it’s a mid-tempo rocker with Van Leer’s scat vocal on display. In contrast “De Ti O De Mi” relies on a slow heavy groove and Dumée’s classy but emotive leads. “Neurotika” is the closest the new quartet comes to the frenzied attack that made the group internationally famous in 1972. Closing out the eleven pieces is “Flower Shower,” a quirky track as amusing for its sound effects as for Van Leer’s melodramatic voice-overs. Overall the album signals a return to form for a long lost musical personality that will quell concerns by older fans and find new ones as well.
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