Jeff Melton 6-August-2001 Focus 3

One of three high water marks for this Dutch group (led by Thijs van Leer (flute) and Jan Akkerman (guitar)) was achieved by their double LP, Focus 3 from 1973. After two years of touring to support an international hit album, Moving Waves, the duo pushed drummer, Pierre van der Linden and bassist Bert Ruiter to search for that new elusive sound which was equal parts improvisation and carefully crafted composition. From the outset, this collection of nine songs runs the full range of the group's talent from classically fused pieces, ("Elspeth of Nottingham"), to extended thirty-minute jams ("Anonymous II"). The peak tracks on the album include the medley of Van Leer's subtle ballad, "Focus III" and Akkerman's "Questions, Answers, Answers Questions". The piece builds from a quiet organ passage with an emotive guitar lead. The tone quickly shifts from subtle to frantic in part two of the medley, where dual electric guitar leads burst into the sound map while the rhythm section does its best to hold it all together. Notwithstanding, the album's sole AM single, Akkerman's romping track "Sylvia," was a minor hit only slightly tainted by Van Leer's daft yodeling. Focus 3 carries the full spectrum of the band's personalities which would unfortunately decline from this point forward. Although the group's next studio album, Hamburger Concerto, contains a more structured approach, this album indicates how far the group could stretch its sound and break through to a supportive US audience.

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