Moving Waves (X2-13060)
Thijs Van Leer (keyboards, flute, vocals),
Jan Akkerman (guitar), Cyril Havermans (bass), Pierre Van Der Linden (drums).
Composed by Thijs Van Leer, Tom Barlage, Jan Akkerman, Pierre Van Der Linden, Eelke Nobel.
Recorded: The Netherlands, 1971
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Focus was a progressive rock band that had a huge hit called "Hocus Pocus" in 1972. (That tune is included on this album, but a live performance of it on the band's next album was the actual hit.) "Hocus Pocus" was sort of a '70s version of what Spike Jones was doing in the '40s and '50s with nonsense vocalizing, whistles and just generally showing off in a humorous way. But even though the song was pop music all the way, its superior musicality suggested these guys might be more than met the ear. And in fact they were. For the most part, the band's music was a mix of rock and classical music. However, "Eruption," and several other pieces spread out over their next few albums, showed the band could also integrate jazz elements into their music. For that reason, I think Focus deserves to be mentioned when discussing the fusion movement, even if they came through a side door and were little noticed in the genre at the time.
"Eruption" is a multipart opus. In 16 distinct but connected sections, the band lays out the facts. Van Leer and Akkerman are high-caliber musicians. Their forays offer the most interest. Akkerman, in particular, represents the fusion face of the band as he grinds out one biting electric solo after another. He squeezes every last ounce of angst out of his instrument. Van Leer is the utility player. He plays everything in every way. The often changing tenor of the piece makes it impossible to describe "Eruption" fully. But though improvisation is probably at a premium, the tune can stand alongside any fusion anthem produced by Mahavishnu, Return to Forever or Weather Report. This isn't to say the tune could knock any of those groups off their pedestals. But certainly it could give them a strong nudge.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky