Focus - Moving Waves (1971)

Moving Waves' is probably the most commercially successful of Focus' albums, and perhaps their finest album overall. This album dates from a time where prog was relatively young and quite unpretentious in comparison to the grand concepts and multitudes of synths that would follow. Here there's only an organ and piano for the keyboard department, as the Moog and its counterparts such as the ARP synthesiser had yet to take hold of musicians. Nevertheless, despite (or maybe because of) these factors, this album is an excellent one.

'Moving Waves' was only Focus' second album, and is remarkably mature considering this. It also was one of few albums to spawn a bona fide hit single.

'Hocus Pocus' was this hit, and became so after the band appeared on the legendary UK TV show 'Old Grey Whistle Test'. Focus were perhaps the first of the acts that became huge after appearing on that show, though 'Hocus Pocus' isn't particularly representative of their oeuvre. Nevertheless, it's a fun rocking romp, with heavy guitar riffing from Jan Akkerman and some excellent drumming from Pierre Van Der Linden to complement the rather demented yodelling vocals and flute playing by Thijs Van Leer. This song perhaps tarred Focus as something of a novelty band, but it was a great choice for a single.

'Le Clochard' is in total contrast to the previous track. It's a beautifully sparse song with only subtle acoustic guitars and some gorgeous mellotron playing that is pastoral, symphonic prog at its most gentle and relaxing.

'Janis' is another gentle track, with some excellent flute playing by Van Leer, plus some wonderfully elegant and understated guitar playing from Jan Akkerman. There's also a very intricate section with lots of tricky flutes that reminds me of Genesis at their most tranquil (think 'After The Ordeal' or 'Stagnation') due to the Hackett style strumming and general laid back feel of the rhythm section.

'Moving Waves' is a very sparse song with only some neat piano work by Van Leer and some rather abstract yet pleasant vocals from him too. This isn't the most substantial of songs, but is easy on the ear at least.

'Focus II' is another excellent track, with a wonderfully uplifting melody mainly from Jan Akkerman's yearning and occasionally cascading guitar work, yet Van Leer's organ playing is also of note, as is an excellent and quite intricate quicker section that has some tricksy time changes.

'Eruption' dominates the album as you would expect, being a side long epic. However, it's an absolutely sublime one. There are lots of different flavours here, with some folk, jazz, classical and blues influences creeping in to the music- the very idea of prog rock. It begins with some eerie guitar atmopsherics, before switching to an uptempo piece with some fiddly musicianship and dizzying guitar work from Akkerman and organ support by Van Leer. The highlight of this wondrous epic is the gorgeous 'Tommy', which is one of prog's finest songs ever, thanks to the beauteous mellotron, haunting harmonies but most of all Akkerman's stunningly emotional guitar solo that rivals Santana for sheer spirituality and feeling, yet the whole piece is wonderful, with much complexity, particularly from the interplay from Akkerman and Van Leer, yet Van Der Linden's drumming is the epitome of good taste and virtuosity- his drum solo is excellently rendered and thankfully not self indulgent, just tasteful virtuosity.

All in all, this is highly enjoyable prog rock. To me, Focus didn't make a perfect album and for some their music may be a little gentle at times, but this is still hugely entertaining and flawlessly performed prog that would appeal to all symphonic fans. - Review by salmacis (James Jeffery)

Track Listings

Side 1
1. Hocus Pocus (6:42)
2. Le clochard (2:01)
3. Janis (3:09)
4. Moving waves (2:42)
5. Focus II (4:03)
Side 2
6. Eruption (23:04)
a) orfeus, answer, Orfeus
b) answer, Pupilla, Tommy, Pupilla
c) Answer, The bridge
d) Euridice, Dayglow, Endless road
e) Answer, Orfeus, Euridice

Total Time: 41:41

- Jan Akkerman / solo & acoustic guitars, bass
- Cyril Havermanns / bass, voices
- Pierre van der Linden / drums
- Thijs van Leer / organ, Harmonium, Mellotron, Soprano and Alto flute, piano, voices
Releases information

Lp-Sire-SAS-7401- EMI

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