Focus - The Focus Family Album review

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Focus - The Focus Family Album artwork

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Everybody’s favourite flute-inclined Dutch prog maestros’ latest album is something of a baffling hotchpotch. Over the course of two discs we’re offered rarities and alternatives from 2012’s Focus X, alongside rough sketches for the forthcoming Focus XI. There are solo efforts from each constituent member too: founder/flautist Thijs Van Leer; veteran drummer of 47 years Pierre van der Linden; guitarist Menno Gootjes; and rookie bassist Udo Pannekeet. Plus there are in-band collaborations: Spiritual Swung (van der Linden, Gootjes and recently departed bassist Bobby Jacob’s improv jazzy side project) and Mosh Blues. This is probably middling-to- fair news for Focus fans who must have everything, but with XI limbering up on the touchline, what’s the point? Even with its Roger Dean cover, …Family Album’s content is both bulky and insubstantial. Unsurprisingly, van der Linden’s Riverdance is an unaccompanied drum solo, but so is Spiritual Swung, unaccountably credited to Focus, which is a bit of a swizz when you consider that only six of the 20 tracks are so credited. Even as a Focus 10½, this inexplicable, unfocused potpourri fetches up somewhat short.

Ian Fortnam

Classic Rock’s Reviews Editor for the last 20 years, Ian stapled his first fanzine in 1977. Since misspending his youth by way of ‘research’ his work has also appeared in such publications as Metal Hammer, Prog, NME, Uncut, Kerrang!, VOX, The Face, The Guardian, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Electronic Sound, Record Collector and across the internet. Permanently buried under mountains of recorded media, ears ringing from a lifetime of gigs, he enjoys nothing more than recreationally throttling a guitar and following a baptism of punk fire has played in bands for 45 years, releasing recordings via Esoteric Antenna and Cleopatra Records.