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Focus - At the Rainbow (LP)
 

Focus - At the Rainbow (LP)

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Genre: progressive
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Title:  At the Rainbow
Company: Polydor
Catalog: 2383 229
Year: 1973
Country/State: Amsterdam, Holland
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: gimmick, fold out sleeve; German pressing
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6390
Price: $10.00

Recorded before an enthusiastic crowd at a May 1973 performances London's Rainbow Theater, "At the Rainbow" was released as a stopgap set when plans for a studio follow-up to 1972's "Moving Waves" fell apart amidst a bout of personnel infighting. Produced by Mike Vernon (interesting choice given his blues-rock roots), the album showcased what many folks think is the classic Focus line up - guitarist Jan Akkerman, keyboardist/flute player Thijs Van Leer, bassist Bert Ruiter and drummer Pierre Van Der Linden. Musically the collection offered up a decent mixture of ''hits' ('Sylvia' and of course 'Hocus Pocus' was on the album, though most folks would be hard pressed to recognize it given the hyper speed rendition), and lesser known album tracks. With the exception of 'Hocus Pocus' none of the live arrangements were drastically different from the studio versions, but that wasn't meant as a criticism given how good these performances were.

- No matter what you think about Focus, the opening instrumental 'Focus III' leaves no doubt that Akkerman deserved all the credit and acclaim that was being directed his way during the mid-1970s. One of the band's prettier and more mainstream compositions, it made for a nice way to start the album. rating; *** stars
- 'Answers? Questions! Questions? Answer!' was more of a jam number with each member getting a shot at he spotlight. Way too long (you can easily skip the seemingly endless flute solo), it would have been better without van Lee's irritating shrieks in the background. Once again the spotlight was on Akkerman who displayed some amazing speed of light fretwork, and while his performance was dazzling (especially in the second half of the song), the secret ingredients this time around was the Ruiter and Van Der Linden rhythm section. Gawd only knows how they did it, but the pair somehow managed to keep this eleven minute plus piece on track. rating; *** stars
- 'Focus II' was another relatively straightforward composition, though the mid-section sounded like an outtake from a television game show theme song and Akkerman's guitar sounded like the microphone had been strapped to one of his fingers. rating; ** stars
- Side two found the band shifting into their progressive stance with an abbreviated take on 'Eruption' (off of 1972's started with "Moving Waves" LP). With the original 22 minute studio version slimmed down to a mere eight minutes, the performance wasn't bad (once again Akkerman's contributions were stellar), but to get the full effect, this is one where I'd stick with the studio rendition. rating: ** stars
- As mentioned above, the live version of 'Hocus Pocus' opened up with an amazing feedback drenched solo from Akkerman and then blasted into a hyper speed take. You were left with the impression they were fed up with the song and just wanted to get it over with. Even with van Leer's extended yodeling and whistling, it made for one of the album highlights. By the way van Leer's 'singing' band introductions were kind of cute. rating: **** stars
- True it wasn't as big a hit as 'Hocus Pocus;, but to my ears 'Sylvia' was actually the better song. One of van Leer's prettiest compositions, there was even a bit of yodeling for his fans. rating: *** stars
- The 'Hocus Pocus' reprise was needless unless you felt the need for a couple of additional minutes of van Leer's yodeling. I certainly didn't feel the need. rating: ** stars

Yeah there were a couple of lulls ('Eruptions'), but for the most part this album sailed by very quickly. Nice introduction to the band ...

"Rainbow" track listing:
(side 1)1.) Focus III (instrumental) (Thjis van Leer) - 3:52
2.) Answers? Questions! Questions? Answer! (instrumental) (Jan Akkerman - Bert Ruiter) - 11:29
3.) Focus II (instrumental) (Thjis van Leer) - 4:36

(side 2)
1.) Eruptions (excerpt) (instrumental) (Tom Barlage - Thjis van Leer) - 8:28
i.) Orfeus
ii,) Answer
iii.) Orfeus
iv.) Answer
v.) Pupilla
vi.) Tommy
vii.) Pupilla
2.) Hocus Pocus (Jan Akkerman - Thjis van Leer) (instrumental) - 8:30
3.) Sylvia (instrumental) (Thjis van Leer) - 2:47
4.) Hocus Pocus (reprise) (instrumental) (Jan Akkerman - Thjis van Leer) - 2:46
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