FOCUS ON JAN AKKERMAN

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!

VC: Cheers!

*

24 comments

  1. After doing a double take at the word Tabernake! (which to my moted eye suggested compositions by an exciting Japanese jazz band and not the type of sounds that might emanate from a dusty religious tent) I settled down to read again until coming across the word ‘Aranjuez’.
    A quick search and it is soon playing;
    A sweet album.
    Anyway, it’s a persuasive dialogue between you and HMO.
    Thank you both.

    DD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks DD. Something a bit different! Did you enjoy Focus, back in the day?

      Like

      1. Focus is next up and I wonder if I will recall having heard it before.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I found a best of Focus album (YouTube) and the yodelling on the opening number said, ‘You’ve been here before’.
          Was I spinning? Was it the room?
          Were we spinning, entwined?
          Anyway, it’s a laugh.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. ‘Hocus Pocus’ is a fabulous riff, but the yodelling does wear thin. If you tastes extend to classically (ie: European) influenced progressive music, ‘Hamburger Concerto’ is fabulous.

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            1. I’ll give it a try. Thanks.
              (There’s so much to choose from).

              Liked by 1 person

            2. The side-long suite on ‘Moving Waves’, called Eruption, is also a high point.

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  2. Glad you’re pleased with the set! I had no idea there was genteel funk involved though, so I’m sending mine back for a refund.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh ye of little faith. At least suck it and see.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hey, HMO, I had to share that this 1996 album (where I’m up to!) is an absolute corker!

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      1. You’re way ahead of me! I’ve stuck that one on now though to see what the fuss is about. How are you enjoying the box set overall?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Overall, fabulous value for money, Scott. Some of the eighties stuff drags a bit, even for someone who loves the 1985 (blue) Focus album. But overall, very happy to have it on the shelf. About 6 albums to go, I think!

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      2. Three tracks in… this is top-notch! A corker right enough.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That is an impressive box set!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a bit of a monster! But Jan is a brilliant guitarist.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We can all benefit from conversations with our Heavy Metal Overlord. But 26 CDs? Man, that is a monster! Great stuff.

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  5. I’m afraid I only know THAT song. Where should I start?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. DD just reminded me that there is a worthwhile compilation called, of course, ‘Hocus Pocus: The Best of Focus’. Now if that doesn’t have your stomach rebelling, it is actually a very good intro.
      Depending on your current prog-tolerance rating, the comment I made to David D applies:
      “If you tastes extend to classically (ie: European) influenced progressive music, ‘Hamburger Concerto’ is fabulous.”

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      1. That’s probably the one I’m listening to (just wording order changed).
        Just the right amount I reckon.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Holy $%^&% what a great take and, I didnt know Jan had that much music. I think we talked about him a while ago. Time to do some serious listening. Like I said to 1537. there are reasons I look you guys up. Thanks for the nudge. Nod to HMO as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had no idea either, CB. I knew the 70s stuff — and liked it a lot — and a couple of the 80s albums that have a groovy, funky vibe that I love in a certain mood. But there are at least a dozen albums here I’m yet to discover.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I had come across some recently but no idea the pool was this deep. Like a kid in a candy store.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. So much music, so little time. (Soft sigh …)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True. Even working but part-time, I’m daunted.

      Like

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