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Focus - Golden Oldies CD (album) cover

GOLDEN OLDIES

Focus

 

Symphonic Prog

3.46 | 45 ratings

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Matti
Prog Reviewer
3 stars I took the liberty to change this album into the compilation category, sorry if someone strongly disagrees with me of its nature. A new line-up led by Thijs Van Leer re-recorded the band's existing material, spanning from the not-so-strong debut and the highly acclaimed album classics of the early seventies to Focus 8 (2002). Therefore the title Golden Oldies not only sounds stupid, it's also partly false. Sadly the leaflet is also very cheap-looking. All in all I see this CD as a missed opportunity for a more noteworthy new release of the premier Dutch prog legend. And I'm quite surprised of the high average rating, unusual for a compilation of no more than an album length. Hopefully I don't sound too critical: it's great that this wonderful band still exists in the first place.

What else starts the CD than their biggest hit 'Hocus Pocus'. With the original version still fresh in my mind, I fail to see any good reason to re-record it (or these oldies in general), except for the way the royalties are dealt. There are no notable differences compared to the originals. In my opinion the excellence of FOCUS relies a lot in the equal creative partnership of Van Leer and the original guitarist Jan Akkerman. As a compilation this one naturally more or less excludes the stuff that Akkerman composed (with the exception of 'House of the King' - I haven't heard the debut completely; maybe Van Leer's composing gifts weren't blooming yet on that album). I have nothing against Menno Gootjes' excellent guitar work here, and it truly cannot be said that the guitar as an instrument would be in a minor role throughout this CD.

Indeed, in the terms of music alone this is a very good listen, and quite handy as an introduction to the band if one happens to need one. But for those who already have the classic albums this is pretty ignorable release, and if a newcomer would want to proceed further in collecting Focus, this may turn out to be a frustrating set to own.

I don't know where 'Aya Yuppie Hippie Yee' originates from, but apart from some deliciously wild flute playing it's one of the weakest tracks. 'Neurotika' and 'Brother' are from Focus 8 (I haven't heard whole studio albums by the Akkerman-less newer line-ups). 'Neurotika' is considerably rockier than the art music influenced classic era, but it is a good, lively track in its own way. 'Brother' comes nearer to the classic Focus sound but I don't like the raw vocals in it. Presumably Van Leer's wife wrote the lyrics? Happily the CD in general is very much instrumentally oriented, as the whole Focus output is.

The appeal of a compilation has a lot to do with the representation (the visual and the informative side), and in that sense "Golden Oldies" leaves a cheapie feel. For the music alone this would be four stars.

Matti | 3/5 |

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