Sunday, January 3, 2016

Jan Akkerman - 1972 - Profile

Jan Akkerman


01. Fresh Air (19:50)
  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 Gabriël ?
02. Kemps Jig (1:28)
03. Etude (1:30)
04. Blue Boy (2:24)
05. Andante Sostenuto (4:05)
06. Maybe just a dream (2:33)
07. Minstrel / Farmers dance (2:45)
08. Stick (3:30)

Jan Akkerman / Guitar, Bass, Alto-lute, Spanish guitar, Electric Fender piano
Pierre van der Linden / Drums
Bert Ruiter / Bass
Ferry Maat / Piano
Jaap van Eyck / Bass
Frans Smit / Drums

Very tough to review. Sometimes I think this is a complete mess and other times I think it's a masterpiece. Perhaps it's meant to be that way. Perhaps Akkerman titled this "Profile" because it is a mixed bag showcasing a little bit of everything Jan.

The 20-minute "Fresh Air" suite is an instrumental free-for-all. This piece encompasses everything that is both good and bad about youth. You could argue this is unreserved, unrefined, sloppy, fretboard masturbation with little direction. Or you could argue that while the preceding sentence is largely true, that's how it should be..with fist pumped skyward! I would say there are some truly wonderful moments in this piece but that other parts are definitely guilty of an almost proud, brash sloppiness. You get a little of everything: experimental, rock, psych, fireworks, serene, wah wahs, even moments of Santana-esque rhythms. It does work in some places but is not a perfect CTTE prog moment.

Side two couldn't be more different than side one, except that they share the label of "all over the map." This side contains primarily short acoustic/lute numbers that are truly mellow and beautiful, in the realm of things like "Mood for a Day" with a renaissance mood. It has a couple of other oddities like the bluesy Joey Molland-like "Blue Boy" and the whispy "Maybe Just a Dream" which again, were Pete Ham singing over it, could sound like a lost Badfinger track. Maybe Jan was into Badfinger! The closer "Stick" is a more serious blues jam but this one owing more to Clapton.

I like this mixed bag album warts and all and would recommend it to people who like Focus and/or guitar instrumental albums. But I add the caveat that if you demand themes of consistency and discipline in your prog this might not work for you. This album is like the Jan Akkerman variety show and I'm happy to have a ticket.

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