Focus: Focus X

10th from Dutch masters.

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With Focus tracks gracing a Nike 2010 World Cup ad and the theme to Steve Coogan’s prog-tastic sitcom Saxondale, the band enter a new era somewhat revitalised.

Without guitarist Jan Akkerman, fellow founder Thijs van Leer (keyboards, flute) put together a fresh line-up a decade ago (including his producer stepson Bobby Jacobs on bass, and original drummer Pierre van der Linden) and they’re now hitting their stride. It’s as if his stepson has reminded van Leer what distinguished Focus: slightly barmy, adventurous yet accessible genre-hopping, played with a spirit of fun.

Father Bacchus offers that immediately, van Leer tootling away, time-warped, over a heavy, energised jazz-rock groove. Guitarist Menno Gootjes has a couple of Santana/Jeff Beck workouts, and the album then relaxes into more expansive indulgence, and gusts of Caravan and King Crimson can be discerned.

Only Talk Of The Clown, a horrible thing fit only for especially twee morris dancing, lets the momentum slip. Yet Focus pull themselves back into shape, the old magic rekindled here, Roger Dean cover and all.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.