Musicians will appreciate and take notes on the technique displayed here but the album will also delight those who will just want to immerse themselves in the massive grooves...
Swung Volumes 1 &2
www.focustheband.com/index2.htmIn And Out of Focus records
CD 1 – 9 tracks / 51:16 CD2 – 8 tracks 45:35
Consisting of two CDs recorded about five years apart, the consistency of Swung Volumes 1&2 is amazing – but then again, Swung is made up of three-quarters of one of the most musically consistent musical units in the history of rock – Focus. Bobby Jacobs (bass) and Pierre van der Linden (drums) are joined by Niels van der Steenhoven on guitar on disc one, and by current Focus guitarist Menno Gootjes on disc two. Two discs, two power trios, and two (count 'em) names with 'van der' in the middle! A bargain, my friends!
Recorded during sound-checks, in the absence of Focus front-man Thijs van Leer (there's another 'van' – one more and we can open a used car lot), Jacobs, van der Linden and van der Steenhoven / Gootjes create free-form jams that will delight drummers, bass players, and guitarists. Players will appreciate and take notes on the technique displayed here but the album will also delight those who will just want to immerse themselves in the massive grooves created by each trio.
Disc 1 features nine tracks titled "Adventure 1," "Adventure 2," and so one, while the second disc's songs are also gang-named with a sequential suffix: "Raga Reverence 1," "Raga Reverence 2," through to "Raga Reverence 8." Obviously, the titles are simply ways of cataloging the songs since they're essentially spontaneous jams.
The musicianship is stellar throughout, as these fine players free themselves from the very melodic and precise Focus compositions and stretch out musically in more of a jazz/funk mode. Niels van der Steenhoven seems to create more of an emotional groove, with more tonal experimentation while Gootjes tends to play with a cleaner, more technically-oriented attack. Of course, the jazz fusion-like drumming of van der Linden and the powerful, driving bass of Jacobs brings a unified sound and feeling to all seventeen tracks. Since all players involved have the music of Focus as a common thread, the effect is not so much two different bands but one band with a slightly different seasoning on each disc.
Swung Volumes 1&2 is not about the songs as much as it is about the playing. There's technique and tasty licks a-plenty coming from each musician. Bass, drum, and guitar fans – put this on, crank up the volume, and enjoy! -but don't just take my word for it. You can find and order this music here: