Bron: Het Parool
21 Maart 2003
World-famous band. Especially “Live at the Rainbow”, containing
live recordings from 1973, when the band chemistry, at least on stage,
reached a fireable intensity, is a record I still play a lot. (Just
shoot me, old prick, for it).
“Focus II”, “Focus III”, “Answers? Questions!
Questions? Answers!” en “Eruption”, the dissonant
guitar intro of “Hocus Pocus” – the music with that
unique combination of Hammond-organ and rock guitar, still did not loose
anything of its power.
In Focus, a rock guitar was not the only issue, it was the wild, inventive,
rhapsodic, lyrical musician Akkerman, who played the guitar beyond all
That “sound”, that “timing”, those melodic abilities,
that spectacular technique and that incredible, gypsy kind of musicality!
No, there was no other guitar player like Akkerman. Together with organist,
flautist and yodeller Thijs van Leer he formed a band (let’s also
not forget the great drummer Pierre van der Linden, who later joined
the band), until the band split up, much too early and apparently also
In the book “In and out of Focus:
the music of Jan Akkerman & Focus” by the Britt Dave Randall,
Van Leer says that the split up was due to the success of his solo-album
“Introspection”. Akkerman no more than endorses this in
an indirect way: he thought that Van Leer sold out the band artistically
with “Introspection” (soft Bach-orchestrations by Rogier
One might like to know more about it, but Randall does not dig very
deep. It’s more amazing that he quotes from interviews by Dutch
music-magazines to a large extent and doesn’t add any facts from
his own opinion.
Randall restricts himself to the insipid mentioning of biographical
facts out of Akkerman’s life. Meanwhile he misspells many Dutch
names of streets and towns. He even thinks that, in The Netherlands,
Christmas is celebrated on December 5th – (but Sinterklaas and
Santa Claus are rivals). That would not have mattered much, if he would
have come up with some important facts about the music of Akkerman and
Focus. He fails to do so. And when he gives it a try (the Zappa-inspired
“The bridge”) he completely fails. Fact is that, after reading
his descriptions you never feel the urge to run to your record-collection
to play that record once more. Jan Akkerman and Focus deserve a better
book. But that might still be published one day.
Review: Erik Voermans
Translation: Irene Heinicke
Source: Het Parool
21 March 2003