Author:Stephen Lambe / Per Nilsen
Both of these very different books are offshoots from the long running On Track series, hence the combined review.
The Focus title takes an in depth look at the decade in which the band produced its most influential work with a fine series of groundbreaking albums. My own Focus period runs from 1971’s Moving Waves set through Focus III, Hamburger Concerto and ends with 1975’s Mother Focus. Listening back to these in the course of reading this book, the band certainly produced some superb inventive music at their creative peak, with the epic Eruption rivalling Close To The Edge, Supper’s Ready et al as one of the defining side long pieces that were very much de rigeur in the prog world at the time. The author also takes a welcome look at the numerous solo efforts produced by Akkerman and Van Leer – I’m not particularly a fan of the latter’s almost light classical efforts, but some of Akkerman’s work is very good indeed and well worth investigating if you’re not familiar with it. A very well put together book, effectively a potted history of the band, which looks at each album on a song by song basis as well as recounting the creative tensions and personnel upheavals within the group, which led to its inevitable but all too soon implosion.
The Iggy book is the first title in a new series, and takes a look at all the shows the band performed between 1967 and 74, drawing its material in the main from contemporary press reports combined with eyewitness accounts from fans. This, to be honest, isn’t a band I’m particularly keen on, iconic as they may be, but I can certainly see this book appealing to hard core devotees. It’s very obviously been meticulously researched and appears extremely comprehensive, with lots of forensic detail not just on the gigs themselves but also on what was happening within the band over this crucial period in its career. So a good idea in principle, but the artist isn’t really my cup of tea. It will be interesting though to see how this series develops in the coming months, and what other artists are chosen for this treatment.
Length of Read:Short
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
These artists’ music.
One thing you’ve learned
As ever with these types of books, if you’re a fan you’ll find much to enjoy here, especially if you read alongside listening to the music, which is what it’s all about after all.