Focus - The Focus Family Album review
Looking for a concept work? Look elsewhere
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.