Moving Waves by Focus
Often known as Focus II, Moving Waves is the second studio album from Dutch progressive rock band Focus and it is with this album that they get their biggest hit from. Released in October of 1971, Moving Waves is yet another fine example of the creativeness and intuition of the European jazz based jam bands from the 1970s.
To start off the album Focus places their biggest hit "Hocus Focus" first, the heavy riff in the song grabs your attention to start, in similar vain of Black Sabbath or Deep Purple, but then the instruments stop abruptly to bring you the odd yodeling vocals of singer, keyboardist, flutist, and primary song writer Thijs van Leer. The song goes on switching between these two parts, until the end where chicken-like noises are made. This track is catchy and odd enough to draw you into the rest of the album.
Next is "Le Clochard", translated to be "Bread." This two minute track is a step back "Hocus Focus" as a soft Spanish instrumental including dramatic keyboard arrangements and mystic acoustic guitar leading the piece.
Third is "Janis", another softer song to complement "Le Clochard" driven by flutes that are strengthen by the rhythm section, Focus proudly showing their Dutch roots.
Next is both of the songs from which the album is named, "Moving Waves" and "Focus II" to end out the first side of this progressive rock album. "Moving Waves" is another short prog tune that is solely piano and vocals, fitting with the theme and album name. Following, "Focus II" starts with jazzy organ and breaks into a lush prog piece that jumps from part to part, building energy as it goes while pausing for drum fills. Another fairly relaxed instrumental tune, reflecting the styles of the songs before it.
Flipping the album over we get "Eruption", a 22 minute prog rock classic with other acts such as Pink Floyd and ELP doing the same with some of their albums around this time. The song consists of five main sections and the track as a whole is credited to van Leer as the "Basic Musical Idea." "Eruption" starts much like "Focus II" ended, but makes larger shifts from the slower bits into much groovier breaks and transitions into even higher energy snippets. You can almost hear the water that's on the cover with this one, and like the title implies, the music moves much like waves. Just as you start to get bored, Focus brings back a riff lead section which jumps into a groovy solo, sort of like "Green Onions" by Booker T., but jammed out.
After some nice guitar work by Jan Akkerman, the secondary song writer, "Eruption" wildly switches to keyboards and what Focus calls "Voices", we are back the mystic sounds heard earlier on the album. This eventually mounts up to a drum solo by Pierre van der Linden, Focus' newly recruited drummer for this album. You can tell they picked the right guy with Linden sounding already natural as a prog rock drummer.
Trying to stay within the parameters of "Eruption", Focus goes back to a familiar part played earlier in the song and then jumps to another flute lead section to end out the song. You half expect the tune to come back.
As a whole I give Moving Waves a 7 out of 10. While the first track is a track I'm sure to revisit, the rest of the album isn't as grabbing but still displays the wonderful style of prog rock that was happening in 1971.
I recommend this album to anyone who is fans of Yes, ELP, Gentle Giant, or any harder 70s prog rock. This follows a similar style, but Focus naturally incorporates their Dutch roots.
- Ryne's Reviews