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Focus: Focus 11

For their eleventh studio album, Dutch legends Focus continue on with the more jazzy sounds that have permeated their more recent efforts, 11 also sporting some pretty nifty Roger Dean artwork and, you guessed it, eleven new songs. For a band whose history goes back to 1969, it might seem somewhat surprising that they've only now just released their eleventh studio album, but after a long period of inactivity in the '80s and '90s this is their seventh new release since 2002, which includes live albums and compilations. The current line-up of the band consists of:


Thijs van Leer - keyboards, flute, vocals
Pierre van der Linden - drums, percussion
Menno Gootjes - guitar, backing vocals
Udo Pannekeet - bass

Thijs van Leer and Pierre van der Linden are obviously members from the classic era of the band, but Gootjes has been around for a number of years, and Pannekeet is the newest recruit, joining around the time of their Focus 8.5 release. Though still technically a 'prog' band, Focus now employ a wealth of jazz-fusion sounds into their repertoire, which you can hear on the wonderfully quirky & complex "Mazzel", guitars, keys, and flute all intertwining with each other over some tricky rhythms. "Who's Calling" and "Heaven" are both harder rocking prog tracks, thick with Hammond organ, piano, flute, and crunchy guitar riffs, while "Theodora Na-Na-Na" takes a dreamy jazz approach, ripe with synths, steady percussion, and majestic piano. Vocals appear on the more pop based track "How Many Miles?", while "Winnie" is a lush, prog/jazz piece that is a great vehicle for Gootjes' yearning, Jeff Beck styled guitar solos and dreamy flute from van Leer. Complex, rumbling heavy fusion returns on "Palindrome" and "Mare Nostrum", Gootjes again flexing his guitar muscle amid furious drumming and symphonic keyboards. Focus offers a more straightforward rock instrumental with "Final Analysis", again highlighting guitar and keyboards, while closing title track "Focus 11" offers up majestic sounds of glorious prog-rock, with piano, flute, guitar, bass, and drums all working together splendidly to create sheer melodic magic.

Now 50 years into their career, the legends known as Focus are still creating sensational new music, which is pretty damn remarkable. This was a late 2018 release that I didn't get to in time, but what a better way to start out the new year with a standout from the prior year that knocks your socks off! Better late than never!


Track Listing
1. WHO’S CALLING ?
2. HEAVEN
3. THEODORA NA NA NA
4. HOW MANY MILES ?
5. MAZZEL
6. WINNIE
7. PALINDROME
8. CLAIR-OBSCUR
9. MARE NOSTRUM
10. FINAL ANALYSIS
11. FOCUS 11

Added: January 12th 2019
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 211
Language: english

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