Monday, May 18, 2015

Focus -Golden Oldies

Focus are one of the many bands that I know about more than I truly know.  With their unique brand of progressive rock, Focus manifested themselves at the start of the '70s as the most successful and appreciated of all the Dutch pop-rock exports. Fronted by founding member Thijs Van Leer, and best known for their hits “Hocus Pocus”, “House of The King” and “Sylvia”, the iconic Dutch music masters put out a number of highly regarded heavy prog albums in the 70's.  And while I have a few Focus albums, I can't really say I know them well.  So when this "Greatest Hits" package dropped in my lap I was excited to delve into the band.  And damn, was it worth it.

Golden Oldies is the eleventh studio album by the Dutch progressive rock band, released on 14 April 2014. The album consists of newly recorded versions of the most popular songs from the band's back-catalogue, including "Hocus Pocus" and "Sylvia", performed by the current line-up as of 2012: Thijs van Leer, Pierre van der Linden, Menno Gootjes, and Bobby Jacobs.  Focus really aren't like any other band I can name.  Parts of Pink Floyd are there, particularly in some of the languid guitar parts.  Maybe a touch of Tull, especially with the flute work.  There's some exquisite guitar work, some heavy riffing or jazzy passages, and what can only be described as eclectic vocals. "Aya Hippy Yuppie Jeeh" is a perfect encapsulation of their sound.  Some seriously mad riffing and flying guitar, combined with vocals that go nowhere and tell no story other than to utter nonsensical sounds.  Jazz breakdowns, some gorgeous flute, some rock, some prog some heavy, some soft.  All mashed together and all pretty freaking amazing.

Extended prog jams like Focus One, Focus three and Two provide plenty of room for exploration, and the inclusion of Focus's biggest "hit" Hocus Focus" with it's famous yodeling vocal and electrifying guitar leads, make this a great avenue to get into the slightly crazy world of the band.

 Highly recommended if you've always been curious and never knew where to start.


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