In the post 1971 COUNTDOWN: #29 — #26, an instalment in the seemingly endless Vinyl Connection series, Focus’s second album, Moving Waves, was featured. Scott, veteran blogger at HMO, expressed his appreciation of the album, mentioned my other favourite Focus LP, and revealed his acquisition of a boxed set of solo albums from the band’s guitarist, Jan Akkerman. The conversation went something like this…
HMO: I love Focus and this (Moving Waves) is my favourite of theirs. Hamburger Concerto is creeping up on it with each listen though… Particularly love “Le Clochard”, a very classy and beautiful sounding piece. Just bought a big box of Jan Akkerman’s solo stuff too and I’m enjoying everything I’ve heard so far!
VC: Ah, now that is interesting. That’s the huge CD set? I’ve been eyeing that off for months. Thoughts?
HMO: It’s amazing value. I’ve only listened to about five albums so far and enjoyed them all. It’s very eclectic. I got the similar Focus box set least year and it’s brilliant.
VC: The almost-cube Focus box with the 2 DVDs? Yeah, I sprang for that too. Excellent extra material, really worthwhile collection. Hmm… I think you might have just nudged me towards a pre-Christmas Akkerman order!
HMO: The BBC stuff and live Focus material make it a brilliant set. Jan? Treat yourself! It’s worth it for the early albums anyway. I bought the Van Der Graaf Generator box recently too and I’m enjoying that as well.
VC: I also sprang for VDGG, Scott. What a lot of music in that box… reckon it’ll take me a couple of years to get through it.
Five days later…
VC: Twenty-six CDs. Bloody heck.
HMO: That’ll keep you busy! I think I’ve listened to about six of them so far, hehe!
VC: Knowing the early albums, I jumped in with the Tony Scott one, which was new to me, and really interesting… part jazz, part blues. Then I renewed the acquaintance with Profile and Tabernakel. The latter I know from vinyl, but the former I’d forgotten. The first side is stunning, a kind of magical mystery tour of all Jan’s styles and influences.
HMO: I loved both of those. Enjoyed the guitar-in-bed one too. The Kaz Lux ones were good… a bit odd. Every album seems to be really different from the previous. Adventurous stuff and it’s getting me into musical waters unfamiliar for me, the jazz-rock side of things especially.
VC: The variety is striking, isn’t it? Acoustic, baroque, fusion, progressive rock… I love that self-titled album with the disturbing guitar-person cover. Mostly jazz-rock, but with unexpected orchestral touches. Talking of strings, as the family just retired for the night I popped on the Claus Ogerman orchestral album (not something that will happen often, I suspect).
HMO: I’m intrigued by the Ogerman one. Is the guitar acoustic? I love stuff like “Le Clochard” so always on the lookout for that kind of thing.
The following day…
VC: On Aranjuez it’s electric guitar still, but with a very rich, mellow tone. Jan himself described it as MOR, and it is. Yet very tastefully done. Bass provided by jazz legend Niels Henning Ørsted Pedersen. It’s actually lovely; played it again this morning.
HMO: We have our work cut out.
VC: For sure. I’m quite looking forward to Akkerman’s genteel funk albums from a bit later; love their lazy groove. I have It Could Happen To You on vinyl but with a different cover.
HMO: I’m going to try the orchestral one. Happy listening!