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   Jan Akkerman

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UK re-issue from 2000. 8 pages booklet with bio.

Year:  2000
Media:  CD album
Label: BGO Records
Release no: BGOCD490
Manufactured: UK

Musicians: Jan Akkerman
Pierre van der Linden
Bert Ruiter
Ferry Maat
Jaap van Eyck
Frans Smit
Producer: Tim Griek

This album was actually recorded pre-Focus, and apparently Akkerman was reluctant for it to be released once he'd become famous. Fortunately he was over ruled - this may be rough and ready compared to his later works, but it's still a strong piece of work from an extremely gifted musician.

The album falls into two distinct halves, corresponding to sides A and B of the vinyl original. The side long Fresh Air is the main attraction, and it is effectively the first Focus line up as a power trio without Thijs Van Leer. After a semi abstract opening, the piece mutates into a psychedelic freak out on which Akkerman makes his axe scream, moan, wail and sing like a man possessed, all the while underpinned by an imaginative and dextrous rhythm section. Yes, it's a bit of a jam, and yes, the playing is occasionally sloppy or indulgent, but for the most part it soars, one minute recalling Hendrix, the next taking on an almost Krautrock flavour. Amazing stuff, and it sounds like it was recorded in one monumental and inspired take.

The second half of the album is rather patchy, and several tracks feature Akkerman getting to grips with the lute (an instrument he later became extremely accomplished on). Kemp's Jig will be familiar to owners of Gryphon's debut album, and the other lute pieces are in a similar vein. Non virtuoso performances, to be sure, but not wholly lacking in charm. There are also a few group tracks. Blue Boy sounds like a sound check for the 'Hair' house band (which he was playing in at the time) but also points the way forward to Focus, while Maybe Just A Dream is a rather insipid interlude of the type that occasionally cropped up on Focus albums and the closing Stick is an oddly unimaginative if well played churning 12 bar boogie.

Tracks: Fresh Air (Akkerman)
a)Must be my land
b)Wrestling to get out
c)Back again
d)The fight
e)Fresh air - Blue notes for listening
f)Water and skies are telling me
g)Happy GabriŽl?

Kemps Jig (Anonym)
Etude (Carcassi)
Blue Boy (Akkerman)
Andante Sostenuto (Diabelli)
Maybe just a dream (Akerman)
Minstrel/Farmers dance (Akkerman)
Stick (Akkerman)

Unique identifier: 209

Sorting code: 002-33-1972-profile-2000